National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Eva Powell, Health IT

How do Consumers View Health IT?

We are so excited to be able to share with you the results of an unprecedented study, commissioned to examine consumer views on health IT! There were a number of fascinating findings, including:

  • Regardless of the type of record their physician uses, patients see value in EHRs.
  • The one in four respondents who have online access to their medical records were even more supportive of health IT than those who do not. They were also more trusting of doctors to protect their privacy.
  • Consumers rated EHRs higher than paper records when it comes to giving patients confidence their information is safe, complying with privacy laws, giving patients more control over their health information, earning their trust, and seeing a record of who has accessed their information.
  • There are concerns about data breaches and current privacy laws. Three in five respondents whose doctors use EHRs (59 percent) agree that widespread adoption of EHRs will lead to even more personal information being lost or stolen, as do 66 percent of respondents whose doctors use paper records.
  • 51% of EHR respondents and 53% of paper respondents believe the privacy of personal medical records and health information is currently not well protected by state and federal laws and organizational practices.
  • An oversample of Hispanic adults found that those whose doctors use EHRs were significantly more likely than others to see them as valuable in helping them personally, such as in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, understanding their health conditions and keeping up with their medications. They were also more likely to report having experienced a data breach and to worry that more widespread adoption of EHRs will lead to even more such breaches.

Now that the survey has been released publicly, local consumer advocates can use the data to deliver key consumer messages to other stakeholders active in health IT implementation efforts:

  • Patients and consumers see genuine value in health IT.
  • While consumers definitely have concerns about privacy, consumers also recognize that the technology itself has an important role to play in consumer trust. Therefore, value and privacy should be dual foci of education and engagement efforts.
  • Online access to personal health information is a critical facilitator of trust, likely due to its role in promoting transparency. Information exchange initiatives should seize this opportunity to provide patient-facing functionality.
  • Consumers have varying perspectives on and expectations of health IT, which means that local initiative leaders should include representatives of subsets of the populations they serve in their planning and decision-making.

Which of these findings are most relevant to your local politics? Are you seeing these perspectives bear out in your work? Share your thoughts and experiences by posting a comment below. 


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