New research reports the UK public is embracing digital healthcare – but more trust is needed in its security

Utimaco’s ‘Circles of Trust’ study shows that the public supports the digitalization of healthcare, but concerns about security remain

Posted 3 August 2022 by Christine Horton

Sixty-three percent of the UK public would use digital services to access healthcare when possible, however fewer than half (46 percent) consider the information they send to their providers to be secure.

The findings are from a new report from IT security solution provider Utimaco into the demand for digital services within healthcare.

Following the Covid-19 pandemic that began in early 2020, hospitals and GPs switched to treating patients via phone consultations, video chats and other digital means where possible. Although patients have since been allowed back into GPs surgeries, many appointments are still carried out digitally. The NHS App has been downloaded more than 16 million times and there has been a move to digitalise the systems that allow various NHS offices to share information and centralise records.

However, having sensitive health records stored digitally could potentially open them up to being compromised. The survey shows that 70 percent of the public worry to some level about the security of their data when using this type of tech.

The report points to the UK public’s widespread support of the NHS as an institution – 89 percent 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 percent of respondents would not feel comfortable sharing personal information digitally with healthcare providers who are not part of the NHS.

“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 digitalisation. 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,” said Ansgar Steden, chief revenue officer at Utimaco.

“If the British government wants to modernise the NHS through digitalisation, then this survey shows that it should have the backing of the majority of the public.”