Health consumers too worried about data breaches to use health tech

health apps concerns

In the past few decades, technology has come on leaps and bounds. You can drive cars without steering them, switch appliances off at home without being in the house, and even book GP appointments and view your medical records using a mobile portal!

But just because the technology is there, it doesn’t necessarily mean people trust it enough to use it.

A recent study was made to see just how much people trusted using health technology portals to process their medical data. Generally speaking, the study revealed that a huge majority of us are sceptical of such technology, mostly because we fear data breaches.

Data breach fears

For such sensitive information, 57% of patients who have had experience using patient portals and mobile apps had doubts about using the health tech. People are understandably worried that medical records stored and accessed this way will be more susceptible being leaked, hacked, or shared without knowledge and/or consent.

90% said they had these worries in terms of prescriptions, and almost all patients who participated in the study said that they would be especially worried if they had any mental health issues documented.

Continual healthcare sector data breaches not helping

These worries are not just because we think technology is going too far… that the world will soon be full of artificial intelligence robots like in iRobot (although some do!), but they arise out of almost continual healthcare sector data breaches that have been media headlines in recent years. The healthcare sector is vastly ahead of everyone else in terms of data breach volumes, and almost continual news reports of data leaks and hacks are worrying patients.

These concerns over security mean that the portals and mobile apps aren’t being used to their full purpose.

Patients who are sceptical about using the technology, or are afraid about how their health provider will use the data, might end up withholding information. In the study, 89% of patients withheld information from providers in 2016 – which can be dangerous as doing so will mean doctors and other medical professionals won’t have accurate medical data, which could lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

Trust must be rekindled

In light of this study, health providers who use new health technology need to do more to gain the trust of users.

They need to first of all address the key issues of communication when instructing patients on how to use data. Many patients were left confused on how to use tech, and instructions weren’t clear enough for them to reattempt it. Next, health providers need to take their patients’ personal information security much more seriously, and ensure that sensitive data is controlled properly.

It’s the law!

All companies and organisations who hold personal information have a legal duty under data protection laws in this country to protect the data and use it properly. They need to make sure that it’s always safe and secure from third parties accessing it, and also used in a lawful and authorised way. This means health providers need to make sure their security systems in the technology can withstand hacking, and that medical professionals and administrators only access medical information where they have the express consent and authority to do so.

When medical providers neglect these legal duties, victims who have had their medical information compromised can make claims for financial compensation.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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