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Strategic aim 4: Capitalising on technological developments

Last updated on 19 Mar 2018

Since the HRA was established in 2011, the world of health research has changed significantly. Digital advances continue to change how the sector works and offers new opportunities, many of which tie in with innovative use of personal data.

The HRA will remain relevant by:

  1. Looking where technology can improve the service we offer
  2. Understanding and supporting the important role of data


The increased use of mobile and web based or telehealth applications offer researchers new avenues through which to connect with the public and we have an important role in working with developers to direct them through the regulatory landscape supporting innovation. 

We need to take advantage of new technology, using innovative solutions where they can either reduce costs or demonstrate added value for our service users.

We want people to feel safe and confident in that information that they have agreed to share is only shared where they have given consent.

Integrated Research Application System (IRAS)

We lead on the Integrated Research Application System (IRAS) on behalf of a number of partners – we have been undertaking work to identify opportunities to modernise this for the benefit of the research community. We will deliver a new generation IRAS that provides both coordinated applications and unifying approvals processes on behalf of IRAS partners. 

It is important the research sector has a flexible system that can adequately respond to the need for further integration of the regulatory system and changes from Brexit. We're also conscious of the benefits of a being able to extract better intelligence from the system, to help develop insights for the research sector and the wider public.

Data confidence and 'big data'

We will work with other stakeholders to address the issue of data confidence, and ensure our work is supporting the use of ‘big data’ in research. Data is changing the face of health and social care provision and is also a rich source for research that can take advantage of technology to analyse large data sets that hasn’t previously been possible. 

The HRA has a key role to play as the guardian of approvals for use of personal information in research and non-research applications. Our remit to protect and promote the interests of patients and the public in health and social care research is a key part of this agenda.

We will work closer with other stakeholders in this area to ensure we play our role and in carrying out our duties to contribute to public confidence in this growing are of research interest. 

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