Study: Patients Want To Maintain Control Over Their EHR Information

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Patients want to maintain some control over the privacy of their electronic health records, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, Clinical Innovation & Technology reports.

For the study, researchers recruited 30 patients with an average age of 45. The researchers asked the patients to list what elements of their EHR data they would be willing to share and with whom.

Main Findings

The study found that all surveyed patients wanted some level of control over their health data, particularly those patients who had sensitive health information.

Researchers found that more than 75% of surveyed patients were willing to share their entire EHR with a primary care provider but were less willing to share such data with other health care providers like pharmacists and specialists. The study also found that:

  • Among surveyed patients who did not have sensitive health data, 56% were willing to share all of their health data with a specialist or other health care provider; and
  • Among surveyed patients who had sensitive health data, 24% were willing to share all of their health data with a specialist or other health care provider.

Neither subgroup said they would be comfortable sharing all of their health data with non-health care providers, such as health insurers or government agencies.

Comments on Study

Kelly Caine -- an assistant professor in the school of computing at Clemson University in South Carolina -- said the findings indicate that patients want to maintain control over their EHR data.

She noted that in a paper-based system, patients can simply see specialists for services that they want to keep private from their primary care provider.

Caine said that "the overall finding that patients want to maintain the level of privacy and control over the destiny of their health information is not surprising as it simply reflects their current rights and abilities" (Gale, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 11/26).


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