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Few in NHS trust tech firms handling patient data

Published on 29/11/19 at 03:11pm

Few in the NHS trust ‘big tech’ companies to handle patient data in a confidential manner, a recent YouGov poll found.

The survey of 1,027 healthcare professionals, carried out between 23 and 31 October 2019, found that just 17% would trust these multinational corporations with the data. Only 12% of NHS staff and private healthcare workers said they would be comfortable carrying out analysis of patient data to help find cures and treatments for diseases.

This comes despite the same sample group overwhelmingly supporting steps to use this data to help their patients. 81% support analysing patient data to enable quicker diagnosis and more effective treatments, while 71% believe this analysis can help solve some of the greatest healthcare challenges in the UK.

80% believe the UK should have a domestic capability in artificial intelligence and health data analysis, so it does not need to be outsourced to other countries or multinational corporations.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, said: “We support the use of data in medical research and to improve the planning and delivery of care, provided it is done carefully and within the current legal system. Patients and the public must feel confident that their data will be used appropriately and kept secure”.

Last year the government announced that it will invest £250 million into an ‘AI lab’ which will focus on improving patient diagnosis by applying AI to health records.

The recently revealed trade talks between the UK and US governments have led to fears that the NHS could face even more privatisation. While the majority from this survey believe in using AI and online medical data to improve the treatments of patients, it does not seem that the number of those who work in the NHS will trust multinational corporations to do this to do this.

Conor Kavanagh

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