BT has launched a health cloud holding aggregated population-level data on 50m NHS patients in collaboration with MedRed in the United States.

The cloud holds de-identified UK population health data – such as acute care interventions, pharmacy history and health outcomes – going back two to five years, as well as data from other UK sources covering education and income.

This will be brought together with US data, such as adverse event reporting data from the US Food and Drug Administration and recently released Medicare data, onto a single platform.

The project is described in a press release as a “multiyear, transatlantic effort to make available one of the largest open health data repositories in the world”.

“Integration of this data with US data and the addition of advanced analytics hold great potential to help speed the development of products and practices that will advance healthcare and improve the health and wellbeing of people around the world.”

Based on the BT Cloud Compute platform, a beta version of the health cloud is already being used by pharmaceutical companies and universities to help develop new drugs, identify new indications for existing therapies and establish best care practices, the release says.

BT told EHI the UK data held in the health cloud is part of the UK open data license, an open data initiative under the UK Government transparency guidance, which is freely available on

The UK data has been de-identified by public sector organisations and is aggregated population level data, not patient level.

CEO of MedRed, Will Smith, told InformationWeek that US researchers are using foreign data because it is available.

“The U.K. made some gutsy decisions about data liberation. There’s political risk associated and they have a more tolerant climate over there," he said.

BT said it does not charge for access to data sets, but “works with organisations on structured access to the data which includes the costs of maintaining, integrating and hosting a platform on which the data can be used”.

A number of additional releases, featuring expanded data sets and functional capabilities, are scheduled for the coming year.

The project has been recognised by the Obama Administration as a high impact collaboration that supports the Big Data Research and Development Initiative.