A study by CDW Healthcare reveals that half of the U.S. population believes electronic health records will impact their health in a negative way.
Americans don't trust electronic health records, but
they trust their doctors, CDW Healthcare, a provider of technology
infrastructure for the health care industry, uncovers in a new survey.
For its report "Elevated Heart Rates: EHR and IT
Security," CDW interviewed 1,000 Americans who have been seen in a health
care facility in the last 18 months to find out their views on EHRs, privacy
and security. CDW spoke to subjects between Jan. 24 and Jan. 31.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is supporting
EHRs through its federal mandates governing meaningful use of EHRs and has
allocated $27 billion in federal stimulus money under ARRA (the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) to encourage health care providers to
implement this technology.
The government has claimed that EHRs will reduce the risk of
medical errors, adverse drug interactions, and redundant medical procedures as
well as reduce health costs. The medical records could also make information
more available in a timely way and improve office efficiency.
Still, 49 percent of patients surveyed by CDW believed that
EHRs would impact their privacy negatively.
"Americans are increasingly focused on protecting their
personal information. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, the number
of identity theft victims fell 27 percent during the last year," Bob
Rossi, vice president of CDW Healthcare, wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK.
"People take their privacy seriously and want health care organizations to
do the same."
News of data breaches, like those at insurer Health Net as well as Detroit's Henry
Ford Health System
, erode patients' trust in electronic health data and those
providers holding it.
"The survey results show that once an organization notifies customers of a data breach, one-third of those customers never fully
trust the organization again," Rossi said.
Despite the negative thoughts on EHRs, patients trust their doctors to maintain their privacy, according to Rossi. "Patients
overwhelmingly trust their physicians to protect their privacy and to use
personal data in the best interest of the patient," he said.
A perception exists that because medical records are going electronic, they're less secure than paper, Rossi suggested. "The
perception will closely mirror reality," he said. "EHRs aren't
inherently less secure than paper records; they just require a different set of
people, processes and technologies to protect."
Patients also hold doctors responsible for protecting their health information.
Of the patients CDW surveyed, 86 percent believed that health care
organizations held responsibility for securing financial
information, 93 percent thought providers were responsible for keeping
personally identifiable information secure and 94 percent believed
should keep data about a patient's family private.
Meanwhile, doctors don't have some of the essential IT security
measures needed to protect health information, with 30 percent of
physician practices lacking antivirus software and 34 percent not
firewalls, CDW reveals in its March 8 report.
In a contrasting report, EHR provider PracticeFusion commissioned research by GfK Roper revealing that 78 percent of patients
believe EHRs will boost care.
"It's 2011 and patients want their health care to reflect the fact
we're in the 21st century," Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice
Fusion, said in a statement. "They want to have prescriptions sent
electronically, to receive e-mail appointment reminders and to review
diagnoses and upcoming appointments online."