Online checker helps tackle diabetes in the UK
An online tool that lets people check if they're at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is being promoted around the UK by the Diabetes UK charity and the taxpayer-funded National Health Service.
The online checker is part of the digital stream of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), a platform that helps people monitor their lifestyle with the help of a free, personal virtual health coach, with the aim of reducing blood sugar levels and prevent or delay the onset of the illness.
One in ten people over 40 in the UK are now living with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, and Diabetes UK predict that if not tackled more than five million people will have the condition by 2025 .
The Diabetes UK Know Your Risk tool aims to help individuals find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within the next ten years. It's been developed in collaboration with the University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
The tool asks seven simple questions on age, gender, ethnicity, family history, waist measurement, Body Mass Index and blood pressure. Using a points system, it then identifies if the person is at low, increased, moderate or high risk of developing the condition, and based on this score advice is provided such as lifestyle changes or a GP referral.
The charity recommend Know Your Risk as being particularly useful for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, and socially deprived groups who are at greater diabetes risk. Diabetes has been found to be a factor in increasing the severity of coronavirus, which has disproportionately affected these groups .
The NHS DPP digital stream offers support to people at risk of the disease through the use of digital interventions such as wearable technologies that monitor levels of activity, apps to access health coaches, online peer support groups and being able to track goals online. .
The UK's NHS approach to managing and preventing diabetes was recently called world-leading by experts.
Data de-identification - why it matters in healthcare
Large amounts of healthcare data is generated yet goes unused due to privacy concerns. To address this, data privacy firm TripleBlind has created Blind De-identification, a new approach that allows healthcare organisations to use patient data while eliminating the possibility of the user learning anything about the patient’s identity.
We asked Riddhiman Das, co-founder and CEO to tell us more about data de-identification.
Why is data de-identification important in healthcare?
Blind De-identification allows every attribute of any given dataset to be used, even at an individual level, while being compliant to privacy laws, rules, and regulations by default.
Governments around the world are adopting global data privacy and residency laws like GDPR, which prohibit citizens’ personally identifiable information data from leaving the borders of the country. While great for data protection, data residency laws result in global silos of inaccessible data. TripleBlind allows computations to be done on enterprise-wise global data, while enforcing data residency regulations.
In the US, HIPAA compliance has relied on what is called the Safe Harbor method, which requires removing 18 types of personal patient identifiers like names, email addresses, and medical record numbers. The Safe Harbor method can be too restrictive with the data or can leave too many indirect identifiers, which puts the patient data security at risk. Getting de-identification wrong could make an organisation liable for a costly mistake.
What does TripleBlind's solution do?
With TripleBlind, data is legally de-identified in real time with practically 0% probability of re-identification. Our solution allows analytics on data containing personally identifiable information and protected health information with zero possibility of re-identifying an individual from the dataset. This allows healthcare organisations to access more meaningful data, creating more accurate and less biased results.
For example, a healthcare drug researcher in a rural, predominantly white area, would only have patient data that would reflect their local population. With TripleBlind’s de-identification, they could more easily leverage third-party data from another healthcare facility in a more diverse region, creating a more complete data set that more accurately reflects the larger population. This has the possibility to create more accurate diagnoses and better drug results for more diverse populations.
How can healthcare organisations use this in practice?
TripleBlind is blind to all data and algorithms. That means we never take possession of customer data. We only route traffic between entities, enforce permissions, and provide audit trails. The enterprise’s data remains under their control. TripleBlind does not host, copy or control their data, algorithms or other information assets, ever.
We facilitate a connection to an encrypted version of their information assets. Our technology allows the algorithms and data to interact in an encrypted space that only exists for the duration of the operation. Organisations use their existing infrastructure, so it’s not hardware dependent.