Majority of UK public don’t know how to access health records, survey shows

The majority of people in the UK have never accessed their health records despite seeing the value in having their health data shared across the system, according to new data.

The Patients’ Voice survey, conducted by professional services network PwC, shows that there is a significant lack of awareness around access to patient records.

PwC gathered the opinions of 2,000 UK citizens on the value of health records. Data showed that whilst the majority of respondents (92%) recognised the value of sharing their health records, most of them (80%) still had never accessed their own records.

More so, 85% of respondents believe there should be a centralised system where healthcare professionals across the UK can see patients’ records in one location, potentially for the benefit of research purposes.

Of the respondents, 88% who had never accessed their health records said that they don’t know how to do so. This suggests that the NHS could improve access to information around how to access health records.

The survey also highlights that there is a divide amongst patients over how safe they feel their data is. Just under half (49%) of the respondents think their information is safe when stored in an online system and 17% believe it is unsafe.

30% of respondents said they might join a new online service that allows them to share their health records with different healthcare organisations. Most however are unsure about how secure health apps are and the security measures health technology companies put in place. Over 80% believe that health apps and health technology should not be able to access patients’ records and over 40% of patients don’t trust online health companies and healthcare apps with their health data.

Quentin Cole, PwC health industries leader, said: “Patients want to open the black box of healthcare data and find out exactly where their medical records are going and who sees them.

“Lack of awareness of how to access records and also how their data is managed, followed by the NHS cyber-attack earlier this year, has meant there is a scepticism and mistrust in how their patient records are managed. The NHS needs to address this by educating patients and therefore building their trust. Through this, the window of opportunity for new tech companies will widen.

“With access to patient data, tech companies have the potential to do a great deal to help improve healthcare – potentially alleviating pressure on the system, providing faster diagnosis for patients, and aiding developments in medical research.

“But there’s a need to build trust. Being transparent and demonstrating how accessing patient data would not present a risk, but instead be of benefit to both patients and the overall healthcare system, is key to their success.”



Reece Armstrong is a reporter for Digital Health Age. Coming from the North East of England, Reece has an MA in Media & Journalism and a BA in Popular & Contemporary Music from Newcastle University. Reach him on Twitter or email via:

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