Patients uneasy about EHR security

By Bernie Monegain
09:57 AM
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More needs to be done to assure patients that their personal medical information will be safe and secure as the nation switches to electronic health records, according to a new survey that shows only 26 percent of Americans want digital health records.

The findings come from the third annual Electronic Health Records (EHR) online survey of 2,147 U.S. adults, conducted for Xerox by Harris Interactive in May 2012.

According to the survey,  40 percent of respondents believe digital records will deliver better, more efficient care. That response fell 2 percent from last year's survey, and matches the response reported in 2010. Overall, 85 percent of respondents this year expressed concern about digital medical records.

[See also: GAO focused on $2.3B EHR incentives for 2011.]

"We continue to see a resistance to change from consumers  -- meaning providers need to continue to educate Americans on the value of EHRs," said Chad Harris, group president, Xerox Healthcare Provider Solutions.

Despite consumers' misgivings of the value of EHRs, caregivers are quick to adopt digital technology. When asked how their healthcare provider recorded medical information during their last visit to a doctor or hospital, 60 percent of respondents -- who have visited a doctor or hospital -- reported that the information was entered directly into a tablet, laptop or in-room computer station versus 28 percent who reported the information was taken via handwritten notes.

To help caregivers do more with this patient information, Xerox is working with researchers at PARC, A Xerox Company, to explore EHRs as a gateway to a variety of healthcare innovation possibilities. The resulting technology tools will simplify back-office and front-line processes, reduce errors, and free up caregivers to spend more time and attention on day-to-day patient care.

"A big part of PARC's healthcare work for Xerox is using ethnography and other social science methods to observe and analyze actual work practices --not just what people say they do," said Steve Hoover, CEO, PARC, A Xerox Company. "If there's one thing that this survey tells us, coupled with our own experiences, it's that you should never develop or deploy technology outside of the human context." 

[See also: 5 stages of EHR maturity and patient collaboration.]