Electronic Health Records Show Promise, but Consumers Are Wary

1 - Electronic Health Records Show Promise, but Consumers Are Wary
2 - EMR Considered a Basic Right
3 - Privacy Fears Lower for EMR Than Credit Card Data
4 - Patients Aren't Accessing Medical Records Because They Don't Know How
5 - Chronically Ill Patients Access EMRs More Often
6 - Consumers Want Control but Don't Think They Have It
7 - Access a Key Component of Meaningful Use Stage 2
8 - Making Health Care More Affordable
9 - Interest in EMR Access Is Here to Stay
10 - Notable Difference for Patients With Different Illnesses
11 - Doctors Have Their Own Issues With EMR
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Electronic Health Records Show Promise, but Consumers Are Wary

by Nathan Eddy

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EMR Considered a Basic Right

The majority of those surveyed (69 percent) say having access to health data is a human right and they want to access all of their information, indicating consumers with chronic conditions believe it is their right to access their electronic medical records (EMRs), despite their own concerns about privacy.

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Privacy Fears Lower for EMR Than Credit Card Data

Survey respondents with chronic conditions are less concerned with EMR data privacy than they are with data privacy in a number of other industries, such as online banking or shopping with a credit card. In addition, consumers with chronic conditions access their EMR more than healthy consumers.

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Patients Aren't Accessing Medical Records Because They Don't Know How

The primary reason that people had not accessed their medical record was that they didn't know how to access it (55 percent). Seventeen percent said they trust their medical records are accurate so there is no need to personally access them.

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Chronically Ill Patients Access EMRs More Often

When asked, "Have you ever accessed your electronic medical records?" 30 percent of those with chronic conditions said they have, versus 24 percent of healthy respondents, indicating those patients with chronic conditions may be more active in some ways.

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Consumers Want Control but Don't Think They Have It

The survey also found that beyond accessing medical data, the vast majority (87 percent) of U.S. consumers want to control their health data. Although the desire for control is clearly and broadly evident, a little over half (55 percent) of those surveyed said they believe they currently do not have very much—or any—control over their medical information.

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Access a Key Component of Meaningful Use Stage 2

Sixty-five percent of those with heart disease said they have "complete" or "some" control versus 49 percent of those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) saying they have the same level of control. The report noted this information is particularly timely as providers are striving to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2, where providing access to medical information is a core measure, such as providing patients with the ability to view online, download and transmit their health information.

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Making Health Care More Affordable

"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," said Kaveh Safavi M.D., J.D., who leads Accenture's global health business. "This will not only make health care 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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Interest in EMR Access Is Here to Stay

"The research findings confirm that people—particularly the chronically ill—want access to their medical information," the report concluded. "As consumers increasingly expect medical information to be available online, and as federal legislation supports that trend, it will be interesting to see how the percentage of patients accessing their EMR will shift over time."

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Notable Difference for Patients With Different Illnesses

Interestingly, the survey revealed there were notable differences between patients, depending on the type of illness. The highest percentage of individuals believing the benefits of EMR outweigh the privacy risk was among those with cancer (57 percent). On the flip side, asthma and arthritis sufferers showed the lowest percentage, with just under half (48 percent) feeling the benefits of electronic medical access outweigh privacy risks.

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Doctors Have Their Own Issues With EMR

A May 27th article in Medscape Business of Medicine suggested patients and consumers aren't the only ones wary of EMR—doctors expressed concerns, although for different reasons. Some physicians feel the use of electronic records severs the personal ties between doctor and patient, and many thought the forms they are required to fill out to be annoying and overly complex.

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