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Have my medical data but keep your eyes off my fridge

Steve Rogerson
September 23, 2015
Most UK consumers would share data from wearable devices such as fitness bands with their doctor to help them monitor their health, according to research from professional services company KPMG. However, many remain wary about the idea of data from their internet-connected fridges being reviewed, citing privacy as a key concern.
In a survey of 1000 UK adults, nearly three-quarters (74%) said that they would be happy to wear a device that monitored their health and reported it back to their doctor. However, just one person in 14 (7%) would be happy for the same data to be shared with their employer. Most were also cautious about how their health data were processed, with just one in 12 (8%) saying they were happy for a private firm to do so. Three out of five (60%) said they would not want their health data – from an internet-connected fridge, smartwatch or mobile phone – to be shared or stored.
“The survey highlights that although UK consumers are happy to use wearable devices to report their health statuses back to their GP, they are less than comfortable for the data to be shared and stored with other entities, including healthcare providers,” saidCaroline Rivett, director in KPMG’s cyber security practice. “What this shows is that consumers have become tired of the intrusiveness of some of these tactics coming from businesses that they don’t trust. People do not want to feel like they are being tracked for marketing purposes. Companies need to think long and hard about how they talk to their customers and potential customers, or there is a real risk they will become alienated rather than driving new business.”
In recognition of the trust UK adults have with the NHS, 48% said that they would allow the NHS to add their medical records to a single national database so it could be accessed by any medical practitioner in the country. An altruistic 46% of people would be happy for their medical records to be shared anonymously to aid medical research – although 30% clearly stated that they did not want this, with many others undecided.
“With people on the move all the time, accessing medical data through a single source can be great in the event of an emergency to make sure correct and prompt treatments are administered,” said Rivett. “But moving to a single source online brings its own issues. We need to make sure that the data of citizens are protected against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. For this work, the NHS needs to draw on skills from across government and the private sector, but also be willing to educate and engage the public to build understanding and support.”