Five Initiatives for Leveraging Norway’s Health Data

A recent BCG report, unveiled at the Norway Life Science conference, proposes targeted measures in five key areas to optimize the utilization of Norway's distinctive health data for health research and industry development.

Norway boasts 16 central health registries, 53 medical quality registries, and over 360 biobanks, alongside numerous population surveys and electronic health records. This wealth of health data represents an invaluable asset for medical research and innovation efforts. However, accessing these data often presents a challenging and time-consuming task for researchers and businesses.

During last year’s Oslo Science City Arena conference Norway Life Science 2023, BCG introduced the report "Building Norway’s Life Science Industry," offering five strategic recommendations for fostering a robust health industry in Norway. Among these was the ambition to make Norway a global leader in the accessibility and application of health data. The report identified Norway's high-quality health registries but called for clarifications and adaptations to improve research access to health data.

In response, this year's conference theme, "Unlocking the Potential of Health Data," featured the launch of BCG's new report, "Establishing Norway as a Health Data Leader. What Will It Take?" commissioned by Oslo Science City.

Christine Wergeland Sørbye, CEO of Oslo Science City, noted that technological advancements, such as the rise of new AI tools, amplify the significance of Norwegian health data.

"There's no time to waste in better exploiting this potential. At Oslo Science City, we're keenly focused on fortifying connections between life sciences and digitalization, a collaboration that our health data initiatives underscore," Sørbye emphasized.

Investment, Not Cost

BCG partner Lise Lørup, a co-author of the report, said that their findings are grounded in interviews and insights from over 35 health data experts from the public and private sectors.

"The report underscores the vast potential of increased secondary use of health data in developing new products and treatments that not only benefit patients but also spur economic and industry growth. Achieving this, however, demands deliberate collaboration across government, healthcare, research, and industry," she stated.

Key barriers identified include variable interpretations of privacy laws, limited infrastructure for data storage, access, analysis, and delays of up to 12 months for data retrieval.

"Interviewees commonly viewed infrastructure investments as costs rather than investments in future value creation. They also highlighted the importance of establishing common value creation goals and a unified approach to achieving these objectives," Lørup added.

Five Key Recommendations

The authors advocate prioritizing actions in five distinct areas:

1. Undertake comprehensive assessments of health data access processes to pinpoint bottlenecks and devise improved solutions.

2. Refine and adjust the regulatory framework to facilitate access.

3. Promote international and cross-sector collaboration.

4. Enhance and expand upon the existing data infrastructure.

5. Implement actionable KPIs to track and measure progress.

"Becoming an international frontrunner in health data usage demands collective effort, strategic investments, and sustained focus. While challenging, the potential benefits are substantial," Lise Lørup concludes.

Read the report here.