Eight in ten people want ‘fake health news’ removed from internet

02 July 2019 . United Kingdom

The UK public strongly supports accreditation of online health advice, according to new research from Bupa.

  • Eight in 10 Brits (81%) think removing inaccurate medical advice online should be a top priority
  • 73% are in favour of a formal accreditation for online medical advice
  • Major new report from Bupa examines attitudes to emerging and existing health technologies

Couple looking at tablet

The report from the global health insurer examines the UK’s attitudes to trends and future health technologies, and found that more than eight of 10 people believe it’s important to remove misleading or inaccurate health advice from the Internet.

With over half (57%) of us using the Internet to self-diagnose, it’s clear that many of us are using online searches as a shortcut to a medical diagnosis. However, more than half of ‘DIY docs’ do not then go on to visit their GP (67%), suggesting this online information either adds to patient worries or wrongly allays their fears.*

As such, almost three quarters (73%) of Brits say they would like to see a system of formal accreditation for online health information, being one of the public’s top priorities for today’s health tech.

When asked about emerging health technologies, more than half of us (55%) would be willing to use them. These future technologies range from home diagnostics machines which take bloods or do hospital scans at home to a geolocation app that informs you of poor air quality or disease outbreaks.

Yet we still retain a degree of scepticism about fully allowing technology to manage our health. Three quarters (72%) would never completely rely on technology to diagnose and treat a condition, and the same number believe there are too many flaws with artificial intelligence to trust it with our health.

Over three quarters believe that, despite advances in technology, human involvement is the most important aspect of healthcare (78%) and computers will never fully replace human doctors (76%).

Dr. Søren Carstens, Head of Clinical Operations at Bupa Global, commented: “There are incredible advancements being made in medicine and healthcare, and we should embrace these potentially life-changing technologies fully. However, we must be careful to understand the limitations of what is possible without human input. Don’t put yourself through the worry of self-diagnosing on the Internet. And while tech can enable us to know, diagnose and understand more of what is happening in our bodies, that knowledge must be interpreted by a trained eye to be useful and safe. The nation’s belief that human involvement is key is accurate and comforting.”

The top five groundbreaking future tech innovations that would be welcomed by the British public are:

  1. Gene therapy to help prevent diseases such as dementia or cancer (68%)
  2. Home diagnostics to conduct scans and blood tests at home (62%)
  3. DNA reporting that tells you your risk of being affected by genetic diseases (62%)
  4. A geolocation app showing communicable disease hotspots (55%)
  5. A computer packed with medical knowledge that would help you diagnose health issues (54%)

The report has been released in line with Bupa’s sponsorship of the Barbican’s annual flagship exhibition, AI: More Than Human, which explores the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology and demonstrates the potential of AI to revolutionise our lives.

Read the Bupa: Technology and the Future of Wellbeing report in full.

Notes to editor

About the research

Future of Healthcare research conducted by Opinium on behalf of Bupa, and independently surveyed 2,000 people online in May 2019. The total sample size was 2,005 UK adults aged 18+ years old. Results are weighted to nationally representative criteria.

*Research results in this paragraph are from Opinium Research on behalf of Bupa, which independently surveyed 2,000 people online in November 2017. The total sample size was 2,004 UK adults aged 18+ years old. Results are weighted to nationally representative criteria.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Health insurance accounts for the major part of our business with 16.7m customers and contributes around 75% of revenue. We operate clinics, dental centres and hospitals in some markets, with around 15m customers. We care for around 22,300 residents in our UK, Australia, New Zealand and Spain aged care businesses.

We directly employ around 80,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Poland, Chile, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Turkey, the US, Brazil, the Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

For more information, visit www.bupa.com.