ONC Report Looks at Trends in Perceptions Regarding Privacy and Security

Last Tuesday the ONC released results of a two year survey gauging issues of privacy and security of personal health information. The survey concludes that a majority of patients want their providers to use EHRs despite concerns. Discussing the survey results at the HIT Policy Committee meeting that day, ONC Senior Adviser Vaishali Patel said, “In spite of the fact that a majority of Americans expressed concerns regarding the privacy and security of both their medical records and with sharing of their medical records, support for EHRs and electronic health information exchange remained consistently strong.” You can view the meeting notes and listen to the audio of that meeting.

The survey looked to meausre how patients regarded privacy concerns with increased adoption of EHRs, health information exchange and other health IT technologies, polling 2,000 US residents in 2012 and 2013. The researchers found no significant difference between levels of concern from 2012 and 2013.

The survey asked participants the following:

  • What are current levels of concerns regarding privacy and security of medical records? What impact do these concerns have on patients’ interactions and communication with providers?
  • Do these concerns vary by whether provider has an EHR?
  • How have these perceptions changed over time?
  • What are individuals’ concerns regarding different methods of exchange (electronic vs. fax) and have these changed over time?
  • What are individuals’ levels of support for EHRs and electronic HIE in spite of these concerns, and have these changed over time?

Key findings from the results include:

  • A majority expressed concerns, but less than 1 in 10 individuals withheld information from their healthcare providers due to those concerns
  • Although privacy and security concerns were slightly higher when a provider had a paper medical record, the differences were not statistically significant
  • A majority of Americans expressed concerns regarding providers sending medical records, whether paper or electronic; this concern didn’t change between 2012 and 2013
  • Support for EHRs and HIE was consistent and relatively high despite potential privacy or security concerns

You can view the survey results here.