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According to a recent survey by YouGov, only 13% of UK adults trust big tech to safely use their NHS data even when anonymized. That’s a staggering statistic which indicates there is close to no public faith in this government sector. It’s time to rethink how we handle private patient data with blockchain technology.
When it comes to private medical information, most patients are understandably uneasy. How can we trust insurers, medical doctors, and governments to use our most sensitive information as intended? Such concerns have been gnawing on the minds of many in the UK, but now we have some concrete numbers. According to a recent poll by YouGov, only 13% of people believe big tech will protect patient-doctor confidentiality if they have access to anonymous NHS data. Can blockchain technology restore faith?
That’s a staggering statistic. Bear in mind that in this same survey, seven in 10 people admitted that sharing such data might improve treatment and services. Yet, the vast majority of people don’t trust the data to be used as intended. That’s a serious gap which can only be addressed with new technology, such as blockchain, which will ensure trust.
Blockchain technology has been speculated as a possible improvement to the NHS since at least 2017. It was then that Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE proposed that the emerging technology could not only make the government sector more efficient, but it would inspire trust across the board from patients.
Other companies, like Guardtime, have tried to put this into practice themselves. Currently, its app allows UK patients to sign-in and access their information through encrypted portals.
However, the promise of blockchain technology is much more than just secure log-ins and data access. In fact, it’s about preventing tech companies from tampering and data-mining. With a public, distributed ledger system, everything recorded would be transparent.
As the survey indicates, what most in the UK are asking for is something simple: trust. They want trust to be ensured on the NHS systems, to make certain that no tech company can access the data for profiteering or malicious intent. Luckily, blockchain does not require trust: it simply verifies.
Arguably, the NHS is the perfect service to pilot blockchain technology on a societal level. It remains to be seen whether UK representatives will heed the call and transform the NHS into a 21st century institution.
Do you believe the NHS could be transformed for the better with blockchain-based technology? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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