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Survey: Consumers Value EHRs, Concerned about Data Breaches

February 16, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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A recent survey commissioned by the Washington D.C.-based National Partnership for Women & Families and directed by Alan Westin, Ph.D., professor emeritus at Columbia University indicated consumers look at the adoption of electronic health records as a positive thing, but still worry about their data being breached. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive.

“This survey draws attention to a critical, but sometimes overlooked, facet of health information technology — patients and their families need to be at the center of efforts to modernize health care’s information infrastructure," Dr. Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.

The survey, Making IT Meaningful: How Consumers Value and Trust Health ITlooked at consumer confidence in health IT. Survey respondents, 1,961 adults, had an ongoing relationship with a care provider and knew whether that provider uses an electronic or paper record system.

Among the findings:

  • When asked if an EHR is or would be useful for key elements of care — such as making sure doctors have timely access to relevant information, and helping patients communicate directly with providers — 88 to 97 percent of those whose doctors use EHRs, and 80 to 97 percent of those whose doctors use paper medical records, said EHRs would be useful.
  • Just six percent of respondents whose doctors use EHRs are unsatisfied with the medical record system their doctors are using.
  • Three in four respondents whose doctors use paper records said it would be valuable if their doctors adopted EHRs.
  • There are concerns about data breaches and current privacy laws. Three in five respondents whose doctors use EHRs (59 percent) agree that widespread adoption of EHRs will lead to even more personal information being lost or stolen, as do 66 percent of respondents whose doctors use paper records.
  • Similarly, more than half of those whose doctors use EHRs (51 percent) and 53 percent of those whose doctors use paper records agree that the privacy of personal medical records and personal health information is not currently well protected by federal and state laws and organizational practices.

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