Most Patients Want EHRs Despite Privacy, Security Concerns

November 7, 2014 in News

Despite concerns about the privacy and security of personal health data, a majority of U.S. residents said they wanted their health care providers to use electronic health records, according to a survey released Tuesday, Bloomberg BNA‘s “Health Care BLOG” reports.

Survey Details

The two-year survey, conducted by the Office of National Coordinator for Health IT, aimed to gauge how patients’ privacy concerns regarding their health records changed with the increased adoption of health IT. The survey polled more than 2,000 U.S. residents in 2012 and 2013.

An ONC official said the office plans to release more data from the survey soon (Ruoff, “Health Care BLOG,” Bloomberg BNA, 11/6).

Survey Findings

Overall, the survey found that the majority of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the privacy and security of their medical records regardless of whether their providers used paper or electronic systems (McCann, Government Health IT, 11/6).

Specifically, the survey found that:

  • 69% of respondents whose providers used EHRs were very or somewhat concerned about privacy, compared with 75% of respondents whose providers used paper records; and
  • 74% of respondents whose providers used EHRs were very or somewhat concerned about security, compared with 83% of respondents whose providers used paper records.

According to the survey, the differences between privacy and security concerns among providers with electronic versus paper records were not statically significant.

In addition, the researchers found no significant difference between levels of concern from 2012 and 2013 (Patel, ONC survey, 11/4).

As result of their concerns, 10% of respondents reported withholding information from a provider who used EHRs, compared with 6% who withheld information from a provider who used paper records (Government Health IT, 11/6).

Similarly, a majority of respondents expressed concerns about unauthorized access when their medical records are shared electronically or via fax (ONC survey, 11/4)

Despite those concerns, about three quarters of respondents said they still “wanted health care providers to use an EHR despite any potential privacy and security concerns” (Government Health IT, 11/6).

In addition, slightly less than three-quarters of respondents said they wanted their health care providers to share their medical records electronically, despite their concerns (ONC survey, 11/4)

ONC Senior Adviser Vaishali Patel during a Health IT Policy Committee Meeting said, “In spite of the fact that a majority of Americans expressed concerns regarding the privacy and security of both their medical records and with sharing of their medical records, support for EHRs and electronic health information exchange remained consistently strong” (Government Health IT, 11/6).

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