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How Data Sharing Can Benefit Healthcare



The concept of data being freely and openly available to everyone is something that has become commonplace in the age of the Internet. Long gone are the days of having to do homework in a library. However, the term “data sharing” goes far beyond the simplicity of a quick Google search, and is actually being used to change lives and make incredible advancements in academia, science and medicine.

What is data sharing? Who does it benefit? What does it mean for scientists and doctors across the globe? This article will unpack the basics of this concept and explain the benefits of this initiative. 

What is Data Sharing?


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Data sharing, in simple terms, is exactly what it sounds like it is. It refers to the free and open sharing of data amongst scientists, researchers, academics, medical professionals, etc.

This is not merely a kind gesture, but a policy which is enforced in various regions across the world. The new NIH data sharing policy 2023 will replace the existing policy which has been in effect since 2003, and enforces that all research funded by the National Institute of Health (within certain criteria) should be made freely available for use by other scientists, health practitioners and professionals. 

How Does it Work?

Researchers that receive funding for the projects from the NIH are expected to make data available “as soon as practicable” which simply implies that it should be done so in a timely manner – information shouldn’t be withheld for any amount of time for any reason other than a lack of evidence or conclusion. 

This policy is especially important for sharing and spreading information and new science surrounding the Covid-19 virus, how to best protect ourselves against it and the potential consequences of the disease.

The data sharing process is, for the most part, managed via electronic lab notebooks where records are uploaded, stored, categorised and managed – and all contributors will have access to this. 

Why Should Data Be Shared?

The sharing of reliable data can be beneficial, especially in the healthcare industry, in many ways. Open access to research can help to improve efficiency, reduce waste and wasted time, provide meaningful information to healthcare practitioners, improve the patient experience and more. 

The implementation of such a policy can help open doors to new medical, scientific and technological advances. The sharing of data can allow for quicker improvements, more studies and even less duplication of existing research which in turn allows for newer and more important work to be addressed.

Who Benefits From It?

All in all, everyone will benefit from data sharing. Researchers will benefit in that they have easy access to existing studies and data, making their own work quicker and more efficient. Medical practitioners will benefit since they will have quicker access to new and important information intended to make their work easier and allow them to provide better service and care to their patients.

Finally, patients and society as a whole will benefit from data sharing due to the improvements made in the field. They’ll be given better care, improved treatments and more efficient and effective services. 

The sharing of data will also lead to better awareness of issues like Covid-19 and other medical problems. Awareness can be beneficial to all types of people – those in need of care and those providing it.

Are There Any Drawbacks?

Of course, as with any new tool or policy, there will be concerns and issues to be navigated. Certain researchers are pointing to the amount of time that will be required for them in order to comply with the regulations.

This could, in fact, delay important research that would be most beneficial if released sooner rather than later. However, with efficient data management and awareness of the new policy, this issue can be easily overcome and does not outweigh the policy’s benefits as a con. 

Final Thoughts

With more and more health data being generated each year, coming from so many different sources, the need for this information to be consolidated has grown significantly. Data sharing plays an important role in putting the puzzle pieces together in order to gain a greater understanding and optimise medical care. 


Data sharing can empower medical workers through knowledge, improve clinical performance, improve the allocation of resources and overall improve healthcare for patients.

With the global pandemic and the long-term repercussions thereof, this tool has been, and will continue to be a guiding light and major assistance to all in the field. 

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