Educating patients on health data security

While a survey of 2,700 U.S. adults shows that some patient concerns about health data security in EHR systems are warranted, physicians can still help allay unwarranted fears.

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A May Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,700 U.S. adults showed that 80% of patients who have concerns about health data security are worried about hackers stealing their data from electronic health records (EHR) systems -- even though the keepers of HIPAA data breach stats, the Department of Health & Human Services' Office of Civil Rights, reported late last year that thieves who steal physical objects like paper records and computer hardware account for more than 10 times the health care data breaches than hackers.

Patients who have concerns about electronic health data security, of course, are just a small subset of patients; many have no idea a national movement's afoot to convert paper medical records to electronic. Only 18% of respondents to the survey, which was commissioned by Xerox Corp., indicated that their physician even brought up the topic of EHR systems.

Of those who do know about the new electronic health systems:

  • 51% believe electronic records will lead to more efficient health care.
  • 45% believe they are necessary.
  • 23% believe patients have the least to gain from converting paper records to electronic ones.

How can physicians educate patients on the safety, security and benefits of EHR systems, as well as their potential to boost quality of care? We sat down with Paul Solverson, partner for strategic advisory services at ACS, affiliated with Xerox, who shared some interesting ideas.

Let us know what you think about the podcast; email Don Fluckinger, Features Writer.

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This was first published in August 2011

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