Few UK patients using digital products, despite doctors’ advice

Few patients in the UK are making use of digital products despite widespread backing from clinicians, according to a YouGov survey amid concerns about multinational firms analysing and using their data.

The survey found 73% of responding clinicians would recommend that their patients use data-driven technology if it could help them better manager their condition

But just 36% of staff in the survey said their patients are currently making use of digital products, including diabetes management systems and health-tracking wearable devices.

The survey of 1,027 NHS staff commissioned by Sensyne Health found clinicians are uncomfortable with multinational ‘big tech’ companies analysing anonymised patient data, according to a new survey.

The poll found that 81% support the analysis of anonymised 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, such as cardiovascular disease.

But just 12% of NHS staff and private healthcare workers said they would be comfortable with a multinational ‘big tech’ company which pays little tax in the UK carrying the analysis out. Only 17% said they would trust multinational ‘big tech’ companies to handle the data in a confidential manner.

This mirrored the findings of a similar poll commissioned by Sensyne earlier this year, which found patients are also worried about big companies using data gathered from the NHS for profit.

In the latest poll 80% of clinicians said the UK should have a domestic capability in AI and health data analysis so it doesn’t need to be outsourced to other countries or multinational companies.

More than 8 in 10 (85%) say the NHS should receive a fair share of any financial gains made from subsequent medical discoveries, with 87% explicitly calling on the government to step in and ensure that both the NHS and UK taxpayers benefit from discoveries and gains resulting from any analysis.

The findings also highlight the significant benefits that anonymised analysis and data-driven technology can bring – from reducing workloads for doctors and nurses, to helping patients better manage their conditions. This is particularly important as the NHS heads into winter, with pressures mounting on hospitals and trusts.

The survey found that three-quarters (75%) said insights from the analysis of anonymised NHS patient data could lead to quicker diagnosis and more effective treatments.

More than half (53%) believe it could help reduce the workload of doctors and nurses; 76% believe increased use of data-driven technology, such as diabetes management apps, would lead to more accurate monitoring of symptoms and better management of conditions.

A further 58% say greater use of data-driven technology could lead to reduced cost for the NHS due to time saving from less duplication of data recording and use of tech-driven prompts.

It comes after the government announcement in August this year that it will invest £250 million into an ‘AI Lab’ which will focus on improving patient diagnosis by applying artificial intelligence to health records.


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