ONC: Patient comfort levels with EHRs, data-sharing on the rise

A nationwide survey from Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT conducted between 2012 and 2014 indicates patients are growing more comfortable with electronic medical records and support data-sharing, though a summary from the agency notes that the survey took place before several major healthcare data breaches in 2015.

Preserving patient trust is an essential part of establishing an interoperable health IT infrastructure, ONC notes.

Among the survey's results:

  • In 2012 and 2013, a little under half of patients were "very concerned" about the privacy of their medical records, compared to 30 percent in 2014. A similar percentage were "very concerned" about security, compared to 36 percent in 2014.
  • Respondents' concerns about the privacy and security of their medical record did not significantly differ if they had electronic records compared to paper records.
  • About 5 percent of patients reported withholding information from their healthcare provider due to privacy or security concerns; that number did not change significantly between 2012 and 2014.
  • Between 2012 and 2014, at least three-quarters of individuals supported their healthcare providers' use of EHRs despite any potential privacy or security concerns.
  • At least seven in 10 individuals have supported electronically exchanging their health records, despite potential privacy or security concerns.

A study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Dartmouth College based on the 2012 Health Information National Trends Survey found that 13 percent of respondents reported having withheld information from their provider because of privacy and security concerns.

Privacy concerns can "crash" big data initiatives before they become useful, while the key to success lies in finding the right balance, experts said at a Princeton University event in April 2014.

To learn more:
- here's the ONC data brief (.pdf)