Electronic Health Records Still Causing Security Concerns: Xerox

The majority of Americans have concerns, such as security, about EHRs, and less than one-third want their medical records to be digital.

Doctors need to educate consumers about digital medical records to comply with upcoming federal mandates, as more health-care providers continue to adopt electronic health records (EHRs), according to Xerox’s fourth annual EHR survey of 2,009 adults in the United States, which was conducted by Harris Interactive.

Just 29 percent of those who have a doctor have been informed their medical records will be converted to digital format, the survey revealed. While this represents a 13-point improvement from four years ago, the survey results continued to show that the majority of Americans (83 percent) have concerns, such as security, about EHRs and less than one-third (32 percent) want their medical records to be digital.

Despite continued resistance and slow progress, the survey indicated Americans do see some benefits of EHRs, with 62 percent agreeing that they will reduce overall health-care costs and 73 percent believing that EHRs will improve the quality of service they receive from their health-care provider, up 2 percent and 3 percent from last year.

"The juxtaposition here is that since the HITECH Act became law four years ago, health-care providers have made tremendous strides in adopting EHRs, but there has been little to no change in Americans’ acceptance of digital medical records," Charles Fred, president of health-care provider solutions at Xerox, said in a statement. "Patients will soon have more access to their personal health information than ever before, but they need to be educated by providers on how this will empower them to take charge of their own care."

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, (HITECH), the United States Department of Health and Human Services is spending $25.9 billion to promote and expand the adoption of health IT and set meaningful use of interoperable EHR adoption in the health-care system as a critical national goal as well as incentivizing EHR adoption.

Health-care providers seeking to earn Meaningful Use Stage 2 incentives, which first become available for hospitals on Oct. 1, will have one year to make patients’ medical records available via online portals and must have 5 percent of their patients actually access the data. Currently, only 19 percent of the U.S. adults surveyed have access to their medical records online, the survey found.

"Health-care providers turn to us for Meaningful Use assessments and our expertise in developing the new workflows and programs that they will need to attract, teach and support patients’ use of online portals," Fred said.