Poll Highlights Public’s Views on Importance, Privacy Issues Related to EHRs
Most U.S. residents think physicians should use electronic health records to track, share and maintain patients' medical information; however, residents do not expect savings from using the technology and they anticipate significant privacy breaches, according to a recent poll by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, NPR.org reports (Silberner, NPR.org, 4/22). The telephone survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,238 adults was conducted between March 12 and March 22 ("The Public and the Health Care Delivery System," NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health, April 2009).
The poll found that 75% of U.S. residents believe it is very or somewhat important for health care providers to use EHRs. Twenty-two percent believe that widespread adoption of EHRs will cause overall U.S. health care spending to drop, while 36% said they think spending would stay the same and 34% said EHR adoption would cause health care costs to rise (NPR.org graphic , 4/22). In addition, the poll found that 41% of respondents felt very or somewhat confident that their medical information would remain confidential if it was stored electronically and could be shared online. Seventy-six percent believe that it is very or somewhat likely that an unauthorized person would be able to access their medical record (NPR.org graphic , 4/22).
According to NPR.org, privacy advocates who were initially opposed to legislation promoting EHR use are "so far pleased" with the new rules regarding the $19 billion for health information technology included in the federal economic stimulus package. NPR.org reports that "all that's left is the challenge of getting doctors and hospitals to embrace" health IT, as they have "been hesitating because of concerns about costs, breakdowns and computers becoming outdated" (NPR.org, 4/22).
The full results of the poll are available online.
NPR's "All Things Considered" on Wednesday reported on the poll. This week, NPR is reporting findings from the survey on its programs "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" (Silberner, "All Things Considered," NPR, 4/22).