This content is part of the Essential Guide: EHR interoperability, regulations top patient record concerns
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ONC survey: Growth of confidence in EHR privacy and security

Patients’ trust in providers’ abilities to protect EHR privacy and security is steadily increasing to the point where more than three-quarters of patients support the idea of providers electronically exchanging their data.

From 2012 to 2014, ONC polled Americans on their confidence in the protection of their EHR and paper record data and the possibility of HIE. Over those three years, the percentage of respondents that expressed doubt about the safety of their records dipped noticeably.

In the first year of the survey, 77% of individuals were somewhat or very concerned with the privacy of their medical records, both contained within EHRs and paper records. That figure dropped to 58% by 2014. In a path similar to the one established in answers to the privacy question, the amount of respondents that were at least somewhat worried about the security of their medical records slipped from 72% to 52% over that same time period.

Additionally, in 2014, only 5% of individuals admitted to keeping some of their information from their healthcare providers due to data protection fears. By that same year, more than 75% of respondents were willing to put their EHR privacy and security issues aside and were in favor of electronic HIE.

The definitions of privacy and security provided in the survey were also included in the ONC data brief. Privacy was described as patients having a say in who could use and transmit their medical record, while security was expressed as the existence of protections (including technology) to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing patient records.

Whereas in 2012 50% of the survey respondents belonged to the most apprehensive or “very concerned” groups when it came to the privacy and security of their records, in the final year of the survey, only about a third of respondents identified themselves as very concerned.