Processing data access requests and recovering their costs

Providing services to researchers, such as advising upon data access requests, approving requests and processing approved data requests, costs data custodians in time and resources. Most countries that are more open about providing services to researchers also have developed mechanisms to recover some of these costs. Nonetheless, a number of countries expressed concerns about insufficiencies in the availability of staff or in financial resources to keep up with requests for access to data.

It is worth noting that there is a significant difference in resource expenditures between countries where there is a unique patient identifying number that is widely used and accurately captured within key national health datasets and those where there is a need to rely upon a set of potential identifying variables in order to establish a dataset linkage for statistics and research. In the former, providing data linkage services can be a routinised and automated process requiring few resources. In the latter, data linkage services require skilled statisticians and considerable time to execute accurately.

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