Patients generally see electronic health-record systems as a good thing and want their physicians to use them, but a large percentage also see a dark side to EHRs when it comes to data privacy and security, according to a report from the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Patients like EHRs but worry about data security: survey
The 76-page report, "Making IT Meaningful: How Consumers Value and Trust Health IT," contains results of a survey conducted by Harris Interactive and overseen by veteran privacy researcher Alan Westin. Conducted online last August, the survey had responses from 1,961 adults. More than half (nearly 59%) said their physicians use electronic records.
A high percentage of patients surveyed reported having favorable opinions about EHRs.
When asked how useful EHRs could be in boosting quality in seven different care "elements," between 80% and 97% indicated an EHR would be useful, the report said.
Around one-fourth (26%) of respondents who said their physicians used an EHR reported having access to their health information online, but those who did "were consistently more positive about perceived value of and trust in EHRs," according to the report. For example, 59% reported they were "very satisfied" with the EHR system, compared with 43% without online access to their health information who reported being very satisfied.
Three out of four patients surveyed whose physicians used a paper-based system said they want their physicians to adopt an EHR, the report noted. However, half also didn't express optimism that EHR adoption would result in improved care.
"When asked what impact switching from paper to an EHR would have on quality of care, 41% of paper-system respondents said 'no impact' and 10% said 'negative impact,' " according to the report.
The report also found a high degree of concern and distrust about electronic record-keeping. Nearly six out of 10 patients surveyed (59%) whose physicians used an EHR and two in three (66%) of those whose physicians used paper records said it was likely that "widespread adoption of EHR systems will lead to more personal information being lost or stolen," the report said. In addition, more than half of all respondents said the privacy of personal medical records and health information is not currently well-protected by federal and state laws and organizational practices."
"These findings suggest significant uneasiness regarding the privacy and security of electronic systems," the report said. "Notably, this issue is not about trusting providers: More than 90% of both paper and EHR respondents trust their doctors to protect health information. Rather, this unease may point to inexperience with the capabilities of electronic systems and dissatisfaction with the legal and policy framework in place to protect health information."
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