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New Research Reports the UK Public is Embracing Digital Healthcare – but More Trust is Needed in Its Security

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New Research Reports the UK Public is Embracing Digital Healthcare – but More Trust is Needed in Its Security | Pharmtech Focus
A new report by Utimaco, a leading global provider of IT security solutions, has shown that that 63% of the UK public would use digital services to access healthcare when possible, however less than half (46%) consider the information they send to their providers to be secure. These findings give an insight into the appetite of the British people for digital services within healthcare but also the need for security to be front and center of these services.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020, many hospitals and general practitioner (GP) offices switched to treating patients via phone consultations, video chats and other digital means where possible. Although since then patients have been allowed back into GPs surgeries, many appointments are still carried out digitally. The NHS App has been downloaded over 16 million times and was pivotal in giving the government oversight into the spread of COVID-19. Behind the scenes, there has been a move to digitalize the systems that allow various NHS offices to share information and centralize records.
This change has increased efficiency, but having sensitive health records stored digitally could potentially open them up to being compromised. Other parts of the survey dealing with trust of digital technology shows that 70% of the public worry to some level about the security of their data when using this type of tech. However, when we look at results of a similar question asked about healthcare we find a different story – 46% believe that their data held by the NHS is secure.
The report looks to explore why there is this discrepancy in the level of trust, pointing to the UK public’s widespread support of the NHS as an institution – 89% of the public believe that the government should support a national health service that is tax funded and free at the point of use. This is despite frequent press reports of long waiting times and a health service that has been ‘pushed to the brink’ by years of austerity. This idea is borne out by the fact that the results show that 60% of respondents would not feel comfortable sharing personal information digitally with healthcare providers who are not part of the NHS.
The research results point to a way forward for the NHS in the wake of a shake-up of the UK’s political landscape. Clearly there is the need to do more with less, something that digital technology is well placed to achieve, and given that the public have a great deal of trust towards the NHS, this is something that the research shows they will accept – so long as the digital systems that the health service uses remains secure.
“The results show us that the UK public is enthusiastic about the possibilities of digital technology, but they are still wary of the security implications of digitalization. This seems to be far less of a problem in the case of the NHS, where the pride the British people have in it as an institution has translated to trust in its cybersecurity,“ says Ansgar Steden, Chief Revenue Officer at Utimaco. “If the British government wants to modernize the NHS through digitalization, then this survey shows that it should have the backing of the majority of the public.”
The survey results form part of the larger Circles of Trust: How the UK Public Perceives Digital Risk whitepaper that examines similar attitudes towards the government, automotive and the digital ecosystem in general, across the UK, as well as Germany and Spain.
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