The Security Scrutinizer with Howard Anderson

Docs, Patients Agree on Privacy Issues

Surveys Say Privacy Vital to Electronic Health Records
Docs, Patients Agree on Privacy Issues

The polls conducted for the Markle Foundation found that:

  • More than 80 percent of both the public and doctors surveyed say privacy safeguards are important in making sure that HITECH Act electronic health record incentive payments are well-spent.
  • A majority of doctors and patients do not want the government to collect personally identifiable health information as part of the HITECH incentive effort.
  • However, if safeguards were in place to protect identity, the majority of doctors and consumers express a willingness to allow composite information to be used to detect disease outbreaks, bio-terror attacks and fraud and to conduct research on quality and service-improvement projects.

The surveys also determined that about two-thirds of doctors and the public say that consumers should be able to download their personal health information. Markle supports a blue button initiative that enables such downloading. But more than 90 percent of patients say they rarely or never ask for electronic copies of their medical records.

The surveys are a powerful indication that the public and physicians alike want investments in health IT to come with accountability. 

And 74 percent of physicians want to be able to electronically share patient information with other professionals.

"The surveys are a powerful indication that the public and physicians alike want investments in health IT to come with accountability," says Carol Diamond, Markle's managing director.

That's no surprise. But let's hope physician group practices actually take the necessary security steps as they make the dramatic shift from paper to electronic records. Otherwise, they'll lose the public's trust. And that could derail the entire effort to use EHRs to improve the quality of care.

About the Author

Howard Anderson

Howard Anderson

Former News Editor, ISMG

Anderson was news editor of Information Security Media Group and founding editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity and DataBreachToday. He has more than 40 years of journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues. Before launching HealthcareInfoSecurity, he served as founding editor of Health Data Management magazine, where he worked for 17 years, and he served in leadership roles at several other healthcare magazines and newspapers.

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