Most Americans don't trust their health data is secure against hackers

'Protecting patients' private information from cyber criminals while still making it readily a complex challenge'
By Erin McCann
11:03 AM
Man typing on keyboard

To all the healthcare info security folks out there: You may have a big trust issue on your hands. As, according to a new survey, the lion's share of adults are seriously worried about the security of their health records.

In fact, data from the survey, which was conducted by University of Phoenix College health professions school, shows that an overwhelming 76 percent of U.S. adults expressed concern over the vulnerability of their health data when it comes to cyberattackers.

After hearing back from over 2,000 adults in the U.S., the team found that those 40 and older were the most likely to express these concerns (up to 83 percent of them, in fact), contrasted with 72 percent of individuals in their 20s who expressed concern.

[See also: Trust issues over health privacy persist.]

The University of Phoenix team also wanted to take a pulse of how comfortable these adults were in sharing and exchanging their electronic health records across the care continuum and both local and international health information networks. Some 45 percent of adults indicated they were not comfortable with exchanging their personal health data in these circumstances, and 55 percent say they were "very" or "somewhat" comfortable with doing so.

Again, these numbers vary according to age groups, with individuals in their 20s and 30s having less of an issue with it. Up to 55 percent of those 40 and older, however, indicated they were comfortable.

"In the digital age of healthcare, protecting patients' private information from cyber criminals while still making it readily available to the patients themselves is a complex challenge," said Mark Johannsson, academic dean for University of Phoenix School of Health Services Administration, in a press statement announcing survey results. "This dichotomy demonstrates the importance of healthcare systems collaborating with technology industry leaders to preserve patient records, while also making them easily accessible."

These numbers are no surprise. A survey conducted by the Office of the National Coordinator just last year that took pulse of consumer perceptions toward healthcare security found similar numbers. About 75 percent of consumers said they were concerned or somewhat concerned over the security of their health records. What's more is 10 percent of respondents actually withheld data from their healthcare provider who used an electronic health record because of it.