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ONC Data Brief: Patients’ Concerns over Privacy Hasn’t Shifted with EMR Adoption

June 4, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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While patients’ concerns over the privacy of their health information remains high, new data from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) suggests that the adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs) has not influenced these sentiments.

The data brief, "Individuals’ Perceptions of the Privacy and Security of Medical Records," assesses if privacy concerns have increased since more providers have adopted EMRs. What the researchers found was that the concerns have decreased from 2012 to 2013, albeit by an insignificantly statistical difference. The researchers also found that the difference wasn’t significant between providers with an EMR or those still with a paper record. Eighty-three percent of patients whose provider had a paper record expressed concern vs. 74 percent of patients whose provider had an EMR.

The ONC researchers also determined that the desire for providers to adopt an EMR is high, even with potential privacy and security concerns. In 2013, 76 percent of patients said they wanted their provider to use an EMR and 70 percent wanted their provider to share their medical record with other providers.

“In summary, we found that the concerns individuals may have about the privacy and security of their medical records are not unique or limited to EHRs. More importantly, in spite of potential concerns, a majority of individuals want their providers to use an EHR and to share appropriate medical information electronically with the individual’s other health care providers,” the researchers wrote in the brief.

It’s interesting to note that the survey data was from 2013, before many of the major healthcare hacks became public knowledge. In the past year, the Ponemon Institute reports criminal attacks in healthcare through hacking are up 125 percent compared to five years ago. Major organizations such as Community Health, Blue Cross BlueShield, and others have suffered prominent hacks.

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