The majority of UK consumers would share data from wearable devices like fitness bands with their GP to help them monitor their health, according to research from KPMG, but remain wary about the idea of data from their internet-connected fridges being reviewed.

In a survey of 1,000 UK adults, nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) said that they would be happy to wear a device that monitors their health and report it back to their GP. However, just 1 person in 14 (7 per cent) would be happy for the same data to be shared with their employer.

Most were also cautious about how their health data is processed – with just 1 in 12 (8 per cent) saying they were happy for a private firm to do so. Three out of five (60 per cent) said they would not want their health data, from an internet-connected fridge, smartwatch, or mobile phone, to be shared or stored.

Caroline Rivett, a director in KPMG’s cyber security practice, says: “The survey highlights that although UK consumers are happy to use wearable devices to report their health statuses back to their GP, they are less than comfortable for the data to be shared and stored with other entities, including healthcare providers.

“What this shows is that consumers have become tired of the intrusiveness of some of these tactics coming from businesses that they don’t trust. People do not want to feel like they are being ‘tracked’ for marketing purposes.

“Companies need to think long and hard about how they talk to their customers and potential customers, or there is a real risk they will become alienated rather than driving new business.”

In recognition of the trust UK adults have with the NHS, 48 per cent said that they would allow the NHS to add their medical records to a single national database so that it can be accessed by any medical practitioner in the country.

An altruistic 46 per cent of people would be happy for their medical records to be shared anonymously in order to aid medical research – although 30 per cent clearly stated that they did not want this, with many other undecided.

“With people on the move all the time, accessing medical data through a single source can be great in the event of an emergency to make sure correct and prompt treatments are administered,” says Rivett.

“But moving to a single source online brings its own issues. We need to make sure that the data of citizens is protected against increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks. For this work, the NHS needs to draw on skills from across government and the private sector, but also be willing to educate and engage the public to build understanding and support.”

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