Generally, consumer attitudes favor the use of electronic medical records systems although privacy concerns are a thread running through the results of an online survey released today by management and information technology consulting firm Accenture.
The survey was based on 619 online interviews of people with Internet access conducted March 25-29, a vast majority of which (87%) had health insurance.
Sixty percent of respondents said they thought medical care would improve if doctors had electronic records of their medical history. Asked to rate the extent to which they agree or disagree, 51% agreed "completely" that EMRs can reduce the number of hospital errors while 48% agreed completely that EMRs can improve the quality of medical care, and 38% agreed completely that EMRs can reduce healthcare costs. Only 18% agreed completely that electronic records are more secure than paper, although another 37% said they agreed "somewhat" that they are more secure than paper. Having access to their health records ranked highest among six choices as the greatest potential benefit of EMRs, chosen first by 44% of respondents.
Privacy remains a key issue with consumers, but the survey did not focus on consumer attitudes comparing paper and electronic records. Asked about five potential risks of having an EMR, the top concern chosen by 30% of respondents was that their information could be revealed without their approval.