NHS and healthcare providers are the organisations most trusted to use data ethically

NHS and healthcare providers are the organisations most trusted to use data ethically


Healthcare organisations ranked as the most-trusted by consumers, followed by the emergency services, which were trusted by 47% of those surveyed.

In comparison, the survey found that banks and building societies are trusted by 42% of the public, family and friends by 34%, local government by 31%, central government by 30%, medical research charities by 25%, utility providers by 18%, and social media organisations  by just 5%. 

Nine out of 10 respondents (87%) believe it is important or very important that the organisations they interact with use their data ethically.

The survey was undertaken in October 2019 with a sample size of 2,007 adults.


Data ethics has become an important issue in recent years, as organisations rely more on data to improve how they work and to personalise their services. This has increased as new data sources become available and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) help them use data in new ways.  

Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018, awareness has been raised about the need for organisations to use data ethically.


The healthcare industry has faced multiple challenges protecting sensitive data. Concerns were raised in September when the charity Privacy International claimed that popular health websites in Europe routinely share users’ mental health information with advertisers, data brokers and large tech companies.

A study by the OneLondon Local Health and Care Record Exemplar (LHCRE) published in July revealed that Londoners are sceptical about how patient data is shared by the NHS. It found a strong public expectation that patient information would be shared among clinicians to support individual care, but a lack of confidence about data being shared for the purpose of research and improving services.

Meanwhile, the UK’s data protection regulator fined pregnancy and parenting support club Bounty UK £400,000 in April, after an investigation found it unlawfully shared the personal information of more than 14 million people with a number of organisations, including credit reference and marketing companies.


Jeni Tennison, CEO at the Open Data Institute said: “The survey shows us that people quite rightly expect organisations to use their personal data ethically. Organisations need to respond to their concerns and be more trustworthy in how they collect and use personal data.”

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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