Patients remain concerned about safety of information in EHRs
Monday, February 01, 2016
Pew Research surveys show that we Americans are still quite sensitive about our personal health information and we worry about how this information might be used in ways that negatively impact our ability to secure insurance, access credit or find jobs.
However, the convenience of accessing one's health records or interacting with one's physician online has a relatively strong appeal. By a two-to-one margin (52 percent to 26 percent), more Americans would accept the following scenario:
A new health information website is being used by your doctor's office to help manage patient records. Your participation would allow you to have access to your own health records and make scheduling appointments easier. If you choose to participate, you will be allowing your doctor’s office to upload your health records to the website, and the doctor promises it is a secure site.
Twenty percent say their response to a scenario like this would depend on the particular circumstances. People 50 and older are more likely than adults ages 18 to 49 to say this trade off would be acceptable to them (62 percent vs. 45 percent). Those with some level of college education are more likely than those whose education stopped at high school to find the deal acceptable (59 percent vs. 44 percent).
This information was part of a larger study on privacy and information, and includes responses from 461 U.S. adults and conducted nine online focus groups, FierceEMR reports.
"Those in favor noted that the added convenience and ease would be appealing, although some said that it depended on how secure the website was, who would access the data and whether the respondent in general trusted his or her doctor," the site reports.
Lack of security, hacking or worries about exposure to the information in their electronic health information are the reasons for the reticence. "Others wanted to avoid being subjected to marketing and other pitches based on knowledge of their medical information," FierceEMR said.
The respondents were more in favor of this access to their medical information than to other areas where they may be giving up some privacy.
Patients fearing for the loss of their personal information as a result of an electronic health record dates back almost to the advent of the technology. Hospitals continue to seek ways to alleviate the pain.
In a study dating back to 2012, 13 percent of patients had withheld information from a physician for privacy or security reasons. A multivariable analysis of the results found a positive correlation between patients withholding information and their physician using an EHR during the patient encounter, Medical Economics reported at the time.
Another 2012 study reported that, despite the positive attitudes patients have toward EHRs, many have concerns about the security of their electronic health information — 59 percent of respondents with EHRs and 66 percent of paper-record patients said electronic records will lead to more health information being lost or stolen.
It appears little has changed about people's perceptions of the technology since then.
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