Survey Finds Majority of Patients Believe EHRs Are Valuable for Care

TOPIC ALERT:

The majority of patients find value in the use of electronic health records, according to a study commissioned by the National Partnership for Women & Families, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/16).

Methodology

The study, titled "Making IT Meaningful: How Consumers Value and Trust Health IT," was conducted by Harris Interactive in August 2011 and involved 1,961 survey respondents.

Researchers asked respondents if EHRs are or would be useful in addressing seven key elements of care, such as ensuring physicians have timely access to relevant information and helping patients communicate directly with care providers.

Study Findings

The survey found:

  • Between 88% and 97% of respondents whose physicians use EHRs and between 80% and 97% of respondents whose physicians use paper records said EHRs are or would be valuable for the key elements of care;
  • About 75% of respondents whose physicians use paper records said it would be valuable to switch to EHRs;
  • 26% of respondents have online access to their medical records and are more supportive of health IT than those without online access; and
  • 6% of respondents whose physicians use EHRs are unsatisfied with the system.

Respondents said they had more confidence in EHRs compared with paper records for tasks such as:

  • Protecting patient information;
  • Complying with privacy laws;
  • Giving patients more control over their data;
  • Earning patient trust; and
  • Seeing a record of who has accessed their medical information.

Privacy Concerns

The survey found that many participants had concerns about data breaches and privacy laws. For example:

  • 59% of respondents whose physicians use EHRs and 66% of respondents whose physicians use paper records believe widespread adoption of health IT systems will lead to more lost or stolen information; and
  • 51% of respondents whose physicians use EHRs and 53% of respondents whose physicians use paper records believe that the privacy of medical records and personal health data currently is not well protected (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 2/16).

The report states, "[T]his issue is not about trusting providers: More than 90% of both paper and EHR respondents trust their doctors to protect health information. Rather, this unease may point to inexperience with the capabilities of electronic systems and dissatisfaction with the legal and policy framework in place to protect health information" (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 2/16).

Implications

Christine Bechtel, vice president of NPWF, said consumers must support health IT if it is going to succeed. "If they don't, we will see political pressure for repeal and the promise will be squandered," Bechtel said.

National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said the "survey draws attention to a critical, but sometimes overlooked, facet of health IT -- patients and their families need to be at the center of efforts to modernize health care's information infrastructure" (Healthcare IT News, 2/16).


to share your thoughts on this article.