Although healthcare technology and EHR management tools are improving in security, a new survey by Pew found that Americans are still unprepared to share their health information online.
Pew’s research showed that American tolerance for healthcare data breaches is low—just over half of Americans surveyed felt that doctors should use health information websites to manage patient records, citing privacy concerns as the biggest drawback. Another 20 percent of respondents said their comfort with online sharing would depend on the scenario, and 26 percent felt that accessing online health information was unacceptable.
Respondents cited various reasons for their aversion to online record sharing, but each reason speaks to a larger trend in the healthcare world—patients strongly safeguard their own information, and must trust the clinicians with whom they share information.
Privacy is Case-by-Case
Throughout Pew’s survey, many respondents agreed on one point: their comfort with sharing data depended on the unique circumstances of each medical situation. Before sharing their information online, respondents wanted to know:
- Do I trust this clinic?
- How will they store the data?
- How will the data be used?
- Is my data secure?
Respondents also claimed that the record type stored made a difference in their comfort level. Patients were comfortable with sharing surface level information, such as appointment scheduling or providing basic personal details. However, they complained about having their health information and medical outcomes exposed, which they felt could negatively affect their ability to secure credit, purchase insurance, or find jobs.
“My health records are confidential,” one respondent claimed. “I don’t want them in the hands of someone unscrupulous or marketing companies possibly trying to recommend a drug or something based on a condition I may have.”
Despite the reluctance to share information online, respondents agreed that their personal relationship with that clinic factored into their decision to share data. If they trusted the organization, they were more open to online health records.
Clinicians must remember this as they move towards electronic health records. Although the surge in data breaches over the past few years has painted digital healthcare management in a bad light, clinics still have options to protect themselves. Choosing the right data security options for enterprise health platforms will help prevent data loss, build trust with patients, and ensure that digital records are just as secure as paper files.
Written by Desh Urs
Desh Urs brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial, start-up and Global 500 corporate experience in sales, marketing, and general management to the customers of iBridge. He has led sales organizations as SVP at Qsent, Inc. and VP at Acxiom Corporation, and has focused on the usage of data in data distribution, direct marketing, fraud prevention, and law enforcement.
As a Vice President of Global Sales, Services, and Marketing at Silicon Graphics, Inc., Urs managed engineering and non-engineering functions, developing solutions in sciences, telecommunications, manufacturing, media, business, and defense intelligence, for companies with revenues of several billion dollars. During his tenure as Vice President at Think Tools AG and Brio Technology, Inc., he ran business development and alliances providing solutions in Business Intelligence and Decisions Cycle Management to Global 100 corporations worldwide. In the late 1980s, Urs founded Indus Systems, Inc., which he profitably sold to a systems integration company.
Urs serves on several Advisory Boards, as well as many company Boards, in the United States and India.