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Online Medical Record Access Outweighs Privacy Risk for Chronic Disease Patients

May 5, 2014
by Gabriel Perna
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Americans with chronic health conditions say that the right to access their healthcare records online would outweigh the privacy risks of having that information out there, according to a recent survey from the Chicago-based research and consulting firm, Accenture.

The survey found that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of U.S. consumers with chronic health conditions say that patients should have the right to access all of their healthcare information, and roughly half (51 percent) say that accessing their medical records online outweighs the privacy risks.

Accenture surveyed 2,011 individuals, 918 healthy and 1,093 with 11 chronic conditions, for the survey. Most were slightly less concerned about the privacy of their electronic medical record (65 percent) than they were about other personal information stored online, such as banking (70 percent), in-store credit card use (69 percent) and online shopping (68 percent). Those with heart disease (72 percent) were the most concerned over the privacy of their health data being digital, while those with diabetes, were the least concerned (61 percent).

The main barrier to this kind of technology for 55 percent of the respondents was that they did not know how to access the information. Nearly 90 percent of the respondents want to control their health data, but roughly half (55 percent) say they do not have very much control – or any control – over their medical information. Some, cited in the report, said they trusted their medical records were accurate and they didn’t need to see them. Thirty-one percent of those with cancer said this is why they haven’t accessed their EMR.

"Healthcare will need to adapt to a new generation of individuals who are taking a more proactive role in managing their health and expect to have transparency," Kaveh Safavi M.D. J.D., Accenture's global health business leader, said in a statement. "As consumers continue to demand more access to their personal data online, we expect that patients will gain more power to manage some aspects of their own care. This will not only make healthcare more effective but also more affordable, as consumers doing more for themselves will free up the system to be more productive."

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