By Katie Wike, contributing writer
“Patient trust in the privacy and security of health information is considered foundational to the development of an interoperable health IT infrastructure,” explains the ONC in a data brief. “In 2014, a little over half of individuals had concerns regarding the privacy and security of their medical records, and about half expressed concerns regarding unauthorized viewing of their medical records when sent electronically or by fax.”
Since that time, patients have become increasingly comfortable sharing their health data. Fierce Health IT reports patients are now more trusting of electronic medical records and support data-sharing - though it also notes that the ONC survey was conducted before several breaches took place in 2015.
Perhaps most revealing, 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 fraction of patients surveyed were “very concerned” about security, compared to 36 percent in 2014. Although many security concerns were in relation to electronic sharing, the survey actually found respondents' concerns about the privacy and security of their medical record did not significantly differ if they had electronic records compared to paper records.
Five percent of patients reported withholding information from their healthcare provider due to privacy or security concerns and this number remained the same throughout the survey period of 2012 to 2014. In that same time period, at least three-quarters of individuals supported their healthcare providers' use of EHRs despite any potential privacy or security concerns and about 70 percent have supported electronically exchanging their health records, despite potential privacy or security concerns.
The ONC concluded, “In summary, as EHR adoption and HIE increased among hospitals and physicians, consumers' concerns regarding HIE and the privacy and security of medical records declined.”