It may be warmly embraced by healthcare professionals as a way to improve efficiencies to reduce medical errors and improve patient care, but a survey by Xerox (NYSE:XRX) claims only about 1-in-4 people want medical records to be digital.
Why? About 63 percent of respondents say they are concerned personal information could be stolen by a computer hacker. Some 50 percent of respondents are concerned that digital medical records could be lost, damaged or corrupted, and 51 percent said they’re concerned that their personal information could be misused, according to data from the survey emailed by Xerox.
It’s not surprising, really, given the number of reports of security breaches. Security protocols that are respected and adhered to, particularly when it comes to using laptops to access patient information, could help alleviate this critical problem.
There was some encouraging findings from the survey. About 47 percent of respondents somewhat agree that EHR has improved interaction with healthcare providers for office billing and sharing records with specialists. And 60 percent strongly or somewhat agree that electronic health records will reduce healthcare costs.
Although the survey of 2,147 adults by Harris Interactive revealed that most of the respondents are aware of EHR, providers need to do more to reassure patients not only with how the information is being used but also how it is protected. Providing this kind of reassurance could go a long way toward changing attitudes.
The priority has been meeting the timetable for the conversion to EHR set out in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which penalizes practices if they do not convert their patients’ medical records by reducing Medicare reimbursements in increasing amounts starting in 2015. On the other hand, it has also provided financial incentives for practices that implement EHR prior to 2015.
A campaign that would inform and educate consumers on what EHRs look like, and more importantly, a frank discussion of security risks and what providers are doing to protect records could do wonders for consumer confidence. After all, no one wants consumers to feel marginalized and more needs to be done to assure them that their concerns are understandable and being addressed.
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