Multi-national tech firms not trusted with NHS data

Most people in the UK do not trust multi-national tech firms with NHS data.

87% of people do not trust world-wide tech firms with NHS data, even if the information was made anonymous, a recent YouGov survey has suggested.

The survey further revealed that people would feel more comfortable if the data was used by companies based in the UK such as universities and other regulated firms.

People were questioned as a part of a bigger enquiry into ensuring that technology plays more of a role in the health sector, with one reason being to make sure that healthcare staff are working to their optimum ability, without feeling overworked and too stressed.

The reluctance in the use of data being used over-seas came after participants revealed they feared that if their data was used in other countries, different laws may come into play which could mean their security and confidentiality was no longer held under the same regulations as it would be in the UK.

Despite this, however, 7 out of 10 of the 2081 people surveyed did recognise that sharing data globally could lead to improvements in healthcare and treatment for patients.

The chief executive of the Patients Association, Rachel Power, spoke of the importance that technology in healthcare: “There’s little doubt that new technologies will play a part in delivering care in future, and the results from this study confirm that most people support the use of anonymised patient data for medical research purposes.

“There is also widespread support for data to be safeguarded and analysed in the UK – and the Patients Association agrees that data should be used only for research purposes, and never accessed or used inappropriately.

“The sharing of patients’ information between care institutions is essential to delivering joined-up care that works for the patient, and it is vitally important that this is done – with all appropriate safeguards, to ensure that sensitive information remains confidential.”

After data security breaches of social media earlier in the year, the awareness of data security within companies, such as healthcare firms, has become a higher prerogative.

As part of the survey, 102 MPs were also questioned regarding their feelings towards how NHS data was used with 58% revealing that they would prefer data to be used by a UK company.

Adding to this, 8 in 10 MPs believed that making sure that NHS data is protected as a national asset, is the government’s responsibility.

NHS chief, Simon Stevens, has spoken of the importance of using the most up-to-date technology to ensure that patients get the best care possible.

After previously discussing his aims for the NHS to become a world leader in AI and ML, Stevens said: “As part of the NHS Long Term Plan we are going to be using new technologies and treatments to improve patient care and save more lives.

“We are seeing an artificial intelligence revolution that will be a big part of our future over the next five years, with technologies that can cut the time patients wait for scan results and ease the burden on hard working staff.”

In response the survey, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “The NHS’s unrivalled data has huge research benefits, from unlocking new cancer treatments to helping hospitals and GP surgeries plan ahead more effectively.

“It is absolutely crucial patient data is always protected to the highest standards and the Government has introduced new legislation to support this.”