The ONC’s newest data brief examines trends in individuals’ perceptions regarding privacy and security of medical records and exchange of health information. Using data from a nationwide survey administered from 2012-2014, the ONC now summarizes the trends in consumers’ attitudes toward privacy and security concerns and preferences regarding electronic health records (EHR) and health information exchange (HIE).
The data reveal 6 major trends:
1. Individuals' concerns about the privacy and security of both paper and electronic medical records declined significantly between 2013 and 2014 from 75% very or somewhat concerned to 58% very or somewhat concerned. This is a statistically significant difference (p < .05).
2. In 2014, a similar number of individuals - about one in five - expressed lack of concern about both the privacy and the security of their medical records. The proportion of individuals who were "very concerned" about the privacy of their medical records decreased by about fifteen percentage points between 2013 and 2014. This is a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05).
3. Individuals' concerns regarding the privacy and security of their medical record do not significantly differ by whether they have an electronic versus paper medical record. There were no statistically significant differences between paper versus electronic health records.
4. Between 2012 and 2014, at least three-quarters of individuals supported their health care providers' use of EHRs despite any potential privacy or security concerns.
5. Individuals' concerns regarding unauthorized viewing of medical records when sent by fax or electronic means declined significantly between 2013 and 2014. Between 2013 and 2014, concerns regarding having medical records sent by fax declined by 20% and concerns regarding medical records sent by electronic means declined by 16%. This is a statistically significant difference (p < 0.05).
6. Between 2012 and 2014, at least 7 in 10 individuals have supported electronically exchanging their health records despite potential privacy or security concerns. There are no significant differences between years (p < 0.05).
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. However, it is important to note that these perceptions reflect individuals' points of view prior to announcement in 2015 of several large health care information breaches. Additionally, it is unclear as to whether the significant decreases in concerns between 2013 and 2014 are an anomaly or whether this represents the beginning of a trend towards decreasing privacy and security concerns.
What do you make of the results? Has your organization faced any consumer concerns over using one medical record-keeping format over another? Let us know in the comments below.