Our Future Health has announced it will use the Microsoft Cloud to store data on its volunteers which will allow researchers to access and analyse information securely.

The UK-based health research programme is a collaboration between the private, charity and public sectors – including the NHS. It uses the data it collects for the development of new methods of preventing, detecting and treating a number of conditions, including dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and stroke.

Our Future Health has selected Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to ensure that data collected from its volunteers can be processed for research purposes, and to underpin websites and apps that are used by the medical teams. It is hoped the platform will improve the healthcare landscape by enabling the discovery of new signals for detecting disease; predicting those who may benefit from earlier screening; and developing more targeted treatment, tools and technologies to support the healthcare industry.

All data held will be de-identified, encrypted, stored and managed securely in the UK, in compliance with data protection laws and policies. Neither Microsoft nor DNAnexus will have access to the data at any point.

The data will be contained in a Trusted Research Environment (TRE) provided by DNAnexus, which will sit in a UK Azure region. Researchers will analyse data using a number of bioinformatics and biomedical research tools.

Andrew Roddam, chief executive of Our Future Health, said: “We’re delighted that Microsoft will be working with us as a key technology partner and providing our cloud services. This will be an integral part of Our Future Health, underpinning so many important systems that are essential to the running of the programme and ultimately helping to create one of the most detailed pictures we’ve ever had of people’s health.”

The partnership with Our Future Health follows Leeds Teaching Hospitals moved its electronic health records to Microsoft Azure. While at the start of the covid pandemic, Microsoft Teams was rolled out to the entire NHS workforce to support remote working.

Jacob West, managing director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Microsoft UK, said: “Healthcare teams across the world trust the Microsoft Cloud to deliver better experiences, insights and care, while managing and protecting health and personal data.

“Microsoft is proud to support Our Future Health’s work, which will provide research teams with a unique view into some of the most common and life-changing diseases that people face.”