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Patients lack data confidence in NHS

Published on 30/01/15 at 10:58am
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A recent pharma survey has found that a majority of Britons lack confidence in the NHS to keep their personal data safe.

Findings show that only a third of the people quizzed during an Astellas-sponsored study said they trust the NHS to keep their information secure. This is despite the NHS already gearing up for the inevitable digitalisation of patient records in 2018.

The results came from a survey of 2,000 people conducted ahead of the Astellas Innovation Debate, an event which took place last night at the Royal Institution of Great Britain to discuss what the DNA and data revolutions mean for our health.

It was revealed that 35% would not want anyone – other than the health professionals treating them – to access their data. This is even though half of respondents are more than willing to share their records with researchers and pharma firms.

Dr Kevin Fong, who is a broadcaster and an Astellas Innovations Challenge campaign ambassador, says: “It’s great that we’re using our mobiles to keep an eye on our day-to-day health. But an individual disclosure about our health, to parties outside the medical profession, could potentially have both positive and negative impacts.

“People are right to have concerns about the security of their digital health data, and to question who has access to it.”

The survey revealed that 25% of smartphone users have concerns about who can access the data generated by their health apps. Invasions of privacy and vulnerability are high on their growing list of worries about new digital technology.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Ken Jones, who is the president and chief executive of Astellas Pharma Europe, says: “We know that these innovations can only achieve their full potential if their wider implications – such as privacy and data security issues – are taken into careful consideration. A key question is – with more of our health data digitised, how long before it falls into the wrong hands?”

There is no doubt that the NHS can improve services through new and innovative digital technologies, but the concerns expressed by patients need to be addressed in order to gain their confidence and encourage the public to foster technological advances.

The Astellas survey concluded that only a small percentage of the people asked would be happy for their personal information to be shared with the government, their employer and insurance companies.

Tom Robinson

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