More than seven in ten people surveyed said they were happy to have their annoymised personal health data shared so long as it was used to benefit others.
Research, carried out by YouGov and funded by Oxford-based health technology business Sensyne Health, revealed 71% of people were happy to share their data so long as it is made anonymous and unidentifiable, combined with that of other people and benefited those living in the community.
While the majority of those questioned appeared happy to have their anonymised data shared for the good of others, 70% of people said they would not be happy for the analysis of anonymous NHS patient data to be undertaken by a multinational ‘big tech’ company.
In addition, 13% think such companies can be trusted to handle anonymous NHS patient data in a confidential manner.
Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “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.”
The issue of trusts sharing patient data with third parties has proven to be a contentious one.
The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust signed a deal with DeepMind and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust and Wye Valley NHS Trust all have a partnership with Sensyne Health.
However NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, confirmed recently that trusts have been told not to do “individual side agreements” to “ensure data is being used safely”.