UK patients OK to share personal data with NHS, but not pharma

Views & Analysis

More than half of the UK’s population is prepared to share personal data with the NHS to help with Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects – but not pharma companies, according to a report.

The survey of 2,000 Britons by KPMG showed that 51% of people polled are worried about data privacy, and the majority said they are unwilling to share personal data with UK organisations for AI purposes.

However, there was one exception, as 56% said they would be happy to share personal data with the NHS if it led to better services.

But only 15% of those surveyed said they would be prepared to share personal data with pharma companies.

Only 11% said they would share personal data with media companies, 8% with internet companies, and 7% with political organisations.

The NHS also scored ahead of other organisations – 47% of those surveyed are willing to share data for AI projects with banks, for the police the figure is 33%, and for the government the figure is 22%.

In the survey 53% of people said they believe artificial intelligence will have a positive impact on the NHS, while 10% said it would be negative.

The steps most likely to motivate people to share their personal data with the NHS were to improve the quality of diagnosis and if the NHS took steps to ensure data is kept safe and secure. 54% of people think the potential benefits of giving their personal data to the NHS outweigh the potential risks, while 9% disagree.

Authors of the report, “How the UK can win the AI race” made a series of recommendations – these include a national debate on the realities of AI, formalising data regulation systems for AI, and a ‘British Standard of Trust’ kitemark for AI and data security.

NHS England tech funding initiative saves service £30m

An NHS England technology funding enterprise, the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), secured over £30 million in savings for its parent organisation and reached millions of patients with its innovative tech projects.

According to the latest report by the independent market researchers, PC Consulting, the SBRI contributed to over £30 million in savings for the NHS, with analysts estimating this figure to increase to £310-440 million by 2022.

SBRI Healthcare runs a series of competitions to identify innovative companies, products and services that have the potential to solve healthcare problems.

It provides investment to the winning applicants to help those companies grow and develop so that they are in a position to be procured by the NHS.

The companies funded by the SBRI are already delivering savings to the NHS by reducing the cost of delivering treatment and improving patient care.

The technology developed thanks to the SBRI funding has delivered so far over 60 projects to the market helping 1.2 million patients, according to PA Consulting’s data.

One of the most successful SBRI founded projects is monitoring service ‘Just checking’ developed with dementia sufferers and vulnerable adults in mind.

By using sensors placed around patients’ homes, it gathers data which can be easily reviewed by doctors or relatives allowing patients to stay at home for longer before moving into residential care.

The service is currently used by 80% of local authorities around the UK, saving the NHS £11 million so far.

SBRI is also a driving force behind myGP application, which is currently allowing nearly 20 million patients to contact their respective surgeries in new ways such as using in-app video messaging, voice and video instead of the old school surgery visits.

The trials show the service improves both patients’ experience and GP workload management and is currently used by thousands of surgeries across the UK.

New code of conduct for AI-driven health technology

The UK government has launched a new code of conduct for data-driven health technology, which it hopes will help the NHS make the most of opportunities created, while ensuring responsible stewardship of information.

Published this week by the Department of Health and Social Care, the initial code of conduct for data-driven health and care technology recognises the impact artificial intelligence techniques could have on healthcare.

The government said the technology could develop insights and tools that may improve efficiency in the NHS, through innovations such as decision support tools.

But the technology relies on use of data, and the government and NHS have strong duties to ensure the data is secure and protects patients’ rights and identities, so the public has trust in the new technology and the NHS as an organisation.

The code clarifies expectations from suppliers of the technology, and how the government will support innovators in health and care, including development of trusted approval systems and a coherent pathway for suppliers to enter the market.

Although the code is voluntary, the government is asking for organisations to sign up to it to demonstrate their commitment to best practice.

The government is also conducting a formal review of regulations and assessing commercial models used in technology partnerships.

The code has been launched following the separate Data Ethics Framework, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which guides design of appropriate data use in the government and wider public sector.

Earlier this year the government’s life sciences tsar Sir John Bell said artificial intelligence (AI) could save the NHS billions by cutting costs in areas such as breast cancer screening.

Hospital outpatients could have video-enabled consultations in 5G pilot

Hospital outpatients could have emergency consultations with fast and reliable video links under plans to introduce a fifth-generation (5G) mobile network in the UK’s West Midlands.

The region has been selected to become the world’s first multi-city 5G test bed, with a series of projects set to begin next year, paving the way for a roll-out of the technology across the country.

5G mobile technology allows for download speeds of 20 gigabytes per second – 20 times faster than 4G networks and faster than existing home networks.

The government announced that the Urban Connected Communities Project will develop a large-scale 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Up to £50m is currently available for the project, subject to further development and approval of the business plan.

This includes £25m from the DCMS and a further £25m match funding from regional partners. An additional £25m may be made available at a later stage.

Subject to approval, initial plans allow for digital technologies where hospital outpatient appointments and emergency consultations are carried out by remote video link, without droppage or latency barriers.

As well as being more convenient for patients, they will be able to play back their appointment at a later date, or share it securely with a family member or carer to help inform their care.

There are also plans for “connected ambulances”, where paramedic crews at an incident could access specialist advice while they are at the scene, such as a video conference with consultants or other clinical specialists.

It will also allow live streaming of patient data from ambulances en route to hospital to inform the immediate care patients receive on arrival at hospital.

DCMS funding for the project will come from the £200 million the government has assigned to develop 5G technologies as part of more than £1bn of investment in next-generation digital infrastructure, including via the £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).