Friday, December 16, 2005

Americans Support Online Personal Health Records

Americans Support Online Personal Health Records; Patient Privacy And Control Over Their Own Information Are Crucial To Acceptance
The survey released at today's conference shows that four in five Americans (80 percent) believe that if physicians kept electronic medical records on their patients, health care quality would improve and medical errors would be reduced, because authorized doctors would be able to retrieve a patient's medical history in a matter of seconds. An equal number (81 percent) believe that the ability of researchers to review millions of records anonymously to determine best treatment practices would help all doctors improve the quality of medical care.
Despite these high levels of support for health information technology, keeping electronic medical information private and secure remains a top concern for consumers. Today's research shows that people are much more likely to support online medical records if they have control over their own information and safeguards to protect privacy are in place. Public Opinion Strategies, Alexandria, Va., conducted the survey Sept. 20-22, 2005. The survey of 800 adults has a margin of error of +/- 3.46 percent. According to the poll:
Individuals want to review who has seen their medical information:81 percent of respondents say reviewing who has had access to their personal health information is a "top" or "high" priority.
Patients want to be asked before their information is shared: 79 percent of respondents say it is a "top" or "high" priority that their medical information be shared electronically only with their permission.
Consumers want the identity of anyone who sees their records to be carefully confirmed: 91 percent of respondents say carefully confirming the identity of anyone using the system to prevent unauthorized access or cases of mistaken identify is a "top" or "high" priority.
The public does not want employers to have access to workers’ health information:68 percent of respondents say it is a "top" or "high" priority that employers not have access to secure health information networks.
A separate study, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies on Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 2005, (800 adults; margin of error +/- 3.46 percent) showed that consumers would use their own secure, online "personal health record" account to better manage their health care. Nearly seven out of 10 respondents (69 percent) said they would use this online service to check for mistakes in their medical records as well as to check and refill prescriptions (68 percent).  Nearly six in 10 respondents said they would like to get medical results over the Internet (58 percent) or conduct secure and private e-mail communications with their doctors (57 percent). Taken together, these results show a strong interest among consumers in using health information technology to more fully participate in their own health care.

The seven patient and consumer principles endorsed by the Personal Health Technology Council are:
  1. Individuals should be able to authorize when and with whom their health data are shared. Individuals should be able to refuse to make their health data available for sharing by opting out of nationwide information exchange.

  2. Individuals should be able to designate someone else, such as a loved one, to have access to and exercise control over how their records are shared.

  3. Individuals should receive easily understood information about all the ways that their health data may be used or shared.

  4. Individuals should be able to review which entities have had access to their personal health data.

  5. Electronic health data exchanges must protect the integrity, security, privacy, and confidentiality of an individual's information.

  6. Independent bodies, accountable to the public, should oversee local and nationwide electronic health data exchanges. No single stakeholder group should dominate these oversight bodies, and consumer representatives selected by their peers should participate as full voting members.
To view today's research, read the draft consumer principles, or locate information on today's conference, go to or


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