Study: EHR privacy and security fears don't keep patients from sharing personal health info with docs

Doctor Computer and Gadgets
New study finds more patients don't without health information because of privacy and security concerns.

Despite concerns over the privacy and security of their personal health data, patients don't necessarily withhold health information from their doctors, a new study finds. That's in contrast to other research that says healthcare industry data breaches could hamper population health efforts.

Privacy breaches are increasing as the use of electronic health records (EHRs) grows—but researchers said that hasn’t effected the likelihood a patient will withhold information from a physician or other healthcare provider. In the study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers found no difference in the effect of privacy and security concerns on patients withholding information between 2011 and 2014.

“These findings suggest that consumers’ beliefs about EHR privacy and security, the relationship between technology use and quality, and intentions to share information with their health care provider have not changed. These findings are counter to the ongoing discussions about the implications of security failures in other domains,” the researchers concluded.

That contrasts sharply with other findings, including those about the healthcare industry. For instance, a Black Book research survey released just this week of more than 12,000 adults found 70% of Americans distrust health information technology, up sharply from just 10% in 2014. The study found more than 50% of consumers are skeptical about the benefits of healthcare information technologies and 80% of patients with 2016 provider visits report withholding health information during visits.

In the newest study, researchers found that perceived quality of care was found to reduce the likelihood a patient would withhold information from a provider. The results suggest doctors can ameliorate privacy and security concerns by educating patients about the care quality benefits of EHRs, the researchers said.