The work of Prof. Ricard Martínez, recognized by the Spanish Agency of Data Protection


The work of Prof. Ricard Martínez, recognized by the Spanish Agency of Data Protection

8 February, 2021

The Spanish Agency of Data Protection (AEPD) has awarded the initiative HealthData 29 that facilitates the sharing of health data for research, whose legal design has been inspired by the outstanding work developed in BigMedilytics by Professor Ricard Martínez, director of the Universitat de València Privacy and Digital Transformation Chair and Data Protection Officer of BigMedilytics.

As explained by Professor Martínez, the award is the result of the basic research and lessons learned in BigMedilytcs in the field of health and it demonstrates the potential that knowledge transfer can provide in the service of the common good. “BigMedilytics raised a set of significant legal and technical challenges in implementing GDPR compliance for a massive health data research project”, the Professor states.

For example, in the case of the Comorbidities pilot in BigMedilytics, a retrospective data analysis is conducted in order to develop a decision support system for physicians to assess hospitalization risk and mortality. To guarantee a secure data access and analysis, several safeguards have been adopted based on three main pillars: anonymization of data in two steps and risk analysis of reidentification; implementation of processes that ensure controlled access by the partners to analyse the anonymized data through a secure channel without the possibility of data extraction from the premises of the data provider, and a bilateral agreement between partners that implements legal guarantees.

The prize is awarded in the framework of compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation and the Organic Law on Personal Data Protection and guarantee of digital rights (Modality A) on equal terms.

Innovative legal design

The legal design of HealthData 29 is highly innovative and circumvents the complexity of GDPR compliance. It avoids the risks associated with re-identification and defines a secure intermediary environment. This offers reliable environments endowed with governance that allow an operation that could be defined as controlled open data. The model admits both centralised management and federated data analytics models, which is very promising for primary and care uses. It is an initiative ahead of the objectives of the Open Data Directive and the philosophy behind the proposed Data Governance Act.

HealthData 29 is a project of Foundation 29, developed in collaboration with Microsoft —both External Exploitation Partners of BigMedilytics—, the Universitat de València Privacy and Digital Transformation Chair, and the international law firm Garrigues. The initiative facilitates the creation of data sets that can be used for research and knowledge generation. Models based on machine learning need large data sets to be able to perform the training of the models. Generating these data sets can present challenges in terms of respecting patient privacy. HealthData 29 aims to facilitate this step.

The BigMedilytics consortium is very proud of the exceptional work developed by Professor Ricard Martínez and congratulates him on this well-deserved award.