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Canada needs ‘culture of trust’ for health data, finds report

Balancing privacy with access to health data for researchers is possible, but will require moving from a “culture of caution” to a “culture of trust”, according to a report by the Council of Canadian Academies.

“We have seen an explosion in the volume and variety of health data that is generated,” said Andrew Bjerring, chairman of the expert panel that wrote the report. “Health data are essential for research aimed at improving health outcomes, managing costs, and accelerating health-care sector innovation. However, accessing data in a timely way must be weighed against respecting privacy and maintaining public trust.”

The report, published on 31 March, says that the risk of harm resulting from access to data is low, and so far breaches have been rare and not an issue for organisations with good governance.

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