New technologies will likely open up exciting new ways to use patient data to improve individual care, increase efficiency of hospitals and discover new avenues of research to improve health. However, there is a risk that people will reject or be concerned about the use of these technologies if they are unsure how data about them is being used. Research suggests that whilst people understand some of the benefits and risks of new technologies, there is a low awareness of how they may operate.

Here is a list of published work on public attitudes to new technologies:

  • Putting patients at the heart of artificial intelligence (2019)

The British Heart Foundation and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Heart and Circulatory Diseases surveyed 128 patients to find out how they feel about the use of artificial intelligence technologies in providing healthcare to those with heart and circulatory diseases. The small survey found that 17% of respondents were aware of current cases of artificial intelligence being used in the diagnosis and treatment of heart and circulatory diseases. 91% agree that the public should be informed about the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare. The survey also found that, when given a hypothetical scenario, people felt most comfortable with being diagnosed by a human doctor who used their own judgement along with recommendations of an artificial intelligence assistant rather than not consulting, or solely using, artificial intelligence technologies.

  • Future data-driven technologies and the implications for use of patient data (2018)

This report from Academy of Medical Sciences looks at publics, patients and health care professionals attitudes towards uses of patient data in future technologies. The research found there is optimism about uses of new technologies in healthcare; that low awareness impacts views about the utility of some technologies; that acceptability depends on context; and that people felt the NHS should be in charge of new uses of data with proven social benefit. This research informed principles for uses of data-driven technology.

  • Artificial intelligence: real public engagement (2018)

This Royal Society of Arts report includes public attitudes to, and awareness of, AI and automated decision systems across a range of sectors. Only 18% of people asked were familiar with the potential to use AI to discover new medicines. 31% of people were worried that AI would reduce the accountability and responsibility of people making decisions. The Royal Society of Arts will run a citizens' jury to explore ethical issues around AI in partnership with DeepMind’s Ethics and Society Programme.  

  • Public views of machine learning (2017)

This report from the Royal Society looks at public perceptions of machine learning. It found that only 9% of people have heard of machine learning, although 89% of people are familiar with some of its applications. People thought machine learning has the greatest potential for benefits in the health sector, particularly in improving diagnosis. However, the need to retain personal contact with human doctors is essential.