The Security Scrutinizer with Howard Anderson

Survey: Consumers Aren't Sold on EHRs

Among the Concerns: Fear of Theft, Loss

Only 42 percent of those surveyed agreed that digital records mean better, more efficient care; only 28 percent said they want their records to be digital.

The online survey of 2,720 Americans was conducted by Harris Interactive for Xerox Corp.

Providers need to start conveying the benefits of electronic records, particularly the security advantages over today's paper-based system. 

Why is there so little support for digitizing records? Well, the survey presented a list of potential concerns, and 83 percent of consumers checked at least one. The biggest worry? "My personal information could be stolen by a computer hacker" was selected by 78 percent of those who picked a concern. By comparison, 64 percent were concerned about digital files getting "lost, damaged or corrupted."

Given that a majority of major health information breaches reported to federal authorities so far have involved the loss or theft of computer devices and media, Americans' fears about lost or stolen digital records are understandable. But the reality is that few breaches have involved hackers. It's far more likely, for example, for a laptop containing records to be stolen from a car.

"Providers need to start conveying the benefits of electronic records, particularly the security advantages over today's paper-based system," says Paul Solverson, partner, strategic advisory services, at the consultancy ACS, a Xerox company.

My physician has used EHRs for years. I feel better about the treatment I receive knowing my doctor has instant access to my medical history and allergies.

But many Americans haven't yet experienced EHRs up close and personal. They have a fear of the unknown. And headlines about health information breaches are adding to that fear.

So if your organization is making the transition to EHRs, be sure physicians, nurses and others talk to patients about the benefits. And be prepared to offer a clear answer the question: "What are you doing to keep my records secure?"

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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