New survey reveals public scepticism around sharing health and data with “Big Tech- what does this mean for test and trace?
As the Government entered into a partnership with Apple and Google, for its new Test and Trace app, public polling by ENGINE MHP unveiled that only 25% of the public are comfortable with sharing their health data with ‘Big tech’ – a stark contrast to the 60% who would be comfortable sharing their data with the NHS.
Savanta ComRes surveyed 2,072 UK Adults aged 18+ between 19th and 21st June 2020, asking about their comfort with sharing health data since and before the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, health data sharing is likely to be most well received if this contributes towards improving NHS services, clinical research and medicine development. Meanwhile the public appear less comfortable sharing their health data if it is to be used by Government and big tech companies.
- The majority of the public (60%) are comfortable sharing their health data with the NHS, compared to less than two in five (39%) with the Government, one third (33%) for health tech start-ups and only a quarter (25%) with ‘big tech’ companies
- Of those aged 65+, capturing the ‘high risk’ age group for COVID-19 and those who were overall most willing to share their health data, over three quarters of people (77%) are willing to share their data with the NHS, compared to only one quarter (26%) who would be comfortable sharing their data with ‘big tech’ companies
- Compared to before the pandemic, one in five (22%) say they are less comfortable sharing their health data with the Government and a similar proportion (24%) are uncomfortable with it being used to inform the Government’s lockdown strategy
- The majority of the public are most comfortable sharing their health data if this contributes to improving NHS structures and services (59%), developing new treatments or vaccines (57%) or clinical research (54%)
This research highlights some interesting variance in the publics willingness to share health data since the start of the pandemic. In particular, it highlights public scepticism in sharing data with the Government and ‘big tech’ companies to inform lockdown strategy – something the Government will need to overcome as it adopts the Apple and Google contact tracing app.
Commenting on the findings, ENGINE MHP’s Rachel Rowson, Head of Health Innovation said:
“At a time when the general public are most concerned about sharing their personal health data with the Government and big technology companies, the success of the already troubled Test and Trace app has been put in their hands.
More needs to be done to have a public conversation about the use of personal healthcare data. Until we overcome the public’s data-sharing doubts this will seriously limits the positive impact of innovations and medical advances.”