To promote electronic medical records, focus on privacy

(Credit: Getty Images)

Privacy concerns keep most patients from signing up to electronically share their medical records with health care providers, but education could make the difference, a new study suggests.

“Physicians need to know how important their relationships are with the people who come to them for care…”

The study found that while patient education has typically focused on the benefits of electronic records, privacy may be a more important concern.

“When a patient decides not to share their records electronically, it can result in increased costs, medical errors, and undesired health outcomes,” says study coauthor Lawrence Sanders, professor of management science and systems in the University at Buffalo’s School of Management.

“But patients are more concerned about privacy, and health care providers should make it a priority to let them know about all the policies and security measures in place to protect them.”

By making patients more aware of existing privacy policies and security measures in place, health care providers create an environment where patients are more likely to share their personal health information, and therefore still able to achieve cost and error reduction benefits, the researchers say.

The authors analyzed results of a nationwide health survey with more than 1,600 participants, which included questions about health conditions and lifestyles, intention to share personal health information, and more. Beyond patient education, they found that educating health care providers is just as important.

Doctors say electronic health records hurt patient care

“Physicians need to know how important their relationships are with the people who come to them for care,” says Joana Gaia, clinical assistant professor of management science and systems.

“As doctors spend more time with patients and involve them in decision-making processes, they will be more willing to share their medical records electronically—and see the benefits of doing so.”

The researchers report their findings in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Sanders and Gaia collaborated on the study with Mohamed Abdelhamid, assistant professor of information systems at the College of Business Administration at California State University, Long Beach. Gaia and Abdelhamid are the lead authors.

Source: University at Buffalo