Privacy concerns hold back wider EHR adoption

This could be considered progress: Researchers at North Carolina State University say that it's not cost or stubbornness that is holding back wider EHR uptake, but rather concerns about privacy from the general public.

David Baumer, head of N.C. State's business management department and author of a new study, says that Americans are somewhat rightly worried that EHRs could make them more susceptible to identity theft. According to Baumer, EHR acceptance is higher in the European Union, which has tougher privacy rules.

He says in a press release that 50 percent of Americans have at least some of their medical records in electronic form, but many physicians still consult paper records as part of their "due diligence." That doesn't happen as often in the Netherlands, where 95 percent of the people have EHRs.

"We are moving in the right direction in regard to putting better privacy protections in place, but we have a long way to go," Baumer says. In the paper, which will appear in an upcoming issue of the Boston University Journal of Science and Technology Law, Baumer and co-authors from Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech call for civil penalties for "inappropriate" sharing of electronic health data. Only then will EHRs reach their potential to cut billions of dollars from the U.S. healthcare sector, they say.

For more:
- have a look at this Healthcare IT News story
- see this N.C. State press release