PwC survey says majority of public have never accessed their own health records

In a survey last month from PwC asking 2001 UK Adults, the results found:

  • 80% of UK public have never accessed their health records and 88% of them don’t know how
  • 92% of people happy for health records to be shared between different parts of the healthcare system
  • Concerns remain about security of patient data and giving access to records to health tech companies

The vast majority of people in the UK (92%) recognise the value in having their health records shared across the healthcare system. This is despite 80% saying they have never accessed their own records, according to PwC’s latest Patients’ Voice survey of the public’s views on who should have access to their records.

85% of respondents feel there should be a centralised data system where healthcare professionals in different places are able to see patients’ records in one location, recognising the potential benefit for research purposes.

The survey found an overwhelming 88% of patients who have never accessed their health records, say they don’t know how to do so, suggesting an opportunity for the NHS to improve information to patients to help close this awareness gap. Health records lie at the heart of the healthcare system and digitisation is making it easier than ever to record and access patient data.

The research also shows the need to build trust in the security of patient data since a significant minority of patients are worried about their confidential records being wrongly accessed. Just under half of UK adults (49%) think their information is safe when stored in an online system, with 17% saying it is unsafe. Only 30% say they would consider joining a new online service that allows them to share their health records with different healthcare organisations, demonstrating that there are many hurdles to jump to create a successful data sharing system.


As PwC noted earlier this year in What Doctor? Why AI and Robotics will define New Health, the UK is the most sceptical country across Europe, the Middle East and Africa when it comes to using new technology such as Artificial Intelligence in healthcare.


Quentin Cole, PwC Health Industries Leader, commented: “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.”