Half of Patients Want To Hide Some EHR Data From Providers

December 17, 2014 in News

Nearly half of patients chose to withhold health information within their electronic health record from providers when given the option, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Politico‘s “Morning eHealth” reports (Gold, “Morning eHealth,” Politico, 12/17).

Details of Study

For the study, researchers at Eskenazi Health, Indiana University’s School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute investigated how patients and providers responded when patients were able to control which EHR data to disclose to their providers.

Informatics developers at Regenstrief created a system that allowed patients to select which EHR data to disclose to their providers. Providers could select a “break the glass” button on their computers to view the hidden data if they thought doing so was necessary to the patient’s health (Goth, Health Data Management, 12/16).

The six-month study involved eight physicians, 23 staff members and 105 patients at a primary care clinic (Tierney et al., JGIM, 12/6).

The study was conducted using $1.6 million provided by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.


The researchers found that patients strongly desire the ability to control which EHR data to disclose, according to Health Data Management. Specifically, 49% of patients in the study chose to hide certain information in their EHR from at least one of their providers.

Regenstrief President and CEO William Tierney, the study’s principal investigator, said the study shows that “patients have widely different opinions of what kinds of their health care data they would like visible to different members of their health care team.”

Providers’ reactions were mixed (Health Data Management, 12/16). Providers “broke the glass” to override patients’ preferences and view hidden information a total of 102 times.

When asked about giving patients control over sharing their EHR data:

  • 54% of providers said patients should be able to control who can see their EHR information;
  • 58% of providers thought restricting providers’ access to EHR information could be harmful to the patient-provider relationship; and
  • 71% of providers said that viewing restrictions on EHR data would negatively affect care quality (JGIM, 12/6).
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