China is to issue its first regulation on how the big data from the health sector is collected, stored and used.
Jin Xiaotao, vice-minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said the regulation will be issued soon, as the nation aims to safeguard public security.
Big data for the health industry includes patients' basic information and conditions, disease control and prevention, food safety, lifestyles and even genomes.
"This data concerns public health and national biological security," Jin said. "The new regulation is necessary, especially given that China seeks to develop healthcare data as an asset."
He said an independent management committee will be set up to ensure data security and that the regulation will define the basic rules on ownership, collection and usage.
The move comes after the State Council issued a multidepartment guideline in June to promote and regulate the use of big data in healthcare.
The guideline states that a centralized, uniform big data platform for healthcare is expected to be established by 2020 to standardize data collection, storage, reporting and security management.
"A central goal of the guideline is to improve people's health," said Jin, whose commission was among the departments that produced the document.
The guideline is also expected to play an important role in building a new economic pillar for China involving the application of big data.
Jin said the State-level strategy includes setting up a national healthcare big data center and seven regional centers as well as data research and innovation centers, which will be established with partner institutions from home and abroad.