Study: Patients like EHRs, still worry about their security

The vast majority of patients see the value in electronic health records, but they're still leery about the systems' abilities to keep their health information safe.

That's the upshot of a recent study commissioned by the National Partnership for Women and Families; the organization calls it "the most in-depth survey ever to probe consumer attitudes toward health information technology."

The study of 1,961 adults revealed that between 88 percent and 97 percent of respondents whose primary care physician use EHRs ("EHR respondents"), and between 80 percent and 97 percent of respondents whose physicians use paper systems ("paper respondents"), said that EHRs were useful.  EHRs also outpaced paper in perceived impact of quality of care and rated much better than paper (80 percent compared to 29 percent) for providing doctors with timely access to the data.

However, patients were still concerned about the security of their health information, with 66 percent of paper respondents and 59 percent of EHR respondents stating that widespread adoption of EHRs will lead to more personal information being lost or stolen.

The respondents' fear regarding the security of their medical records is well founded, considering the staggering number of data breaches suffered by hospitals and other healthcare organizations, in large part from the use of electronic records.

The study recommended, among other things, that governments and clinicians increase consumer education regarding the value of EHRs and their right to obtain an "accounting for disclosures" as permitted under HIPAA.

To learn more:
- here's the study
- read the accompanying announcement
- check out this iHealthBeat article