According to a February 2102 National Partnership for Women & Families survey conducted by Harris Interactive and highlighted through iHealthbeat, about 21% of patients whose physician primarily used a paper-based health record system said they would find it very valuable if their physician adopted an electronic medical record system, and about 52% said they would find it somewhat valuable. What was more interesting were patients’ perceptions regarding the privacy of their information, and the factors influencing trust or mistrust in their provider’s ability to protect the privacy of their health information.
What were the factors cited as supporting trust? According to the survey authors, these fell into three general categories and included the following feedback:
- Relationship with doctor and staff: Practices with a good reputation that patients had attended for a long time; a professional demeanour; looking out for the best interests of patients; caring and good communication skills; honesty and integrity; and ethical practices.
- Strong privacy and security policies: Security system and protocols that doctors have in place and follow; computer screens and personal records are kept in a secure, private area; records are password-protected; and limitations on the number of people with access to private records.
- Compliance with the law and best practices: Discussion by doctors of their privacy disclosure policy and confidentiality forms; a requirement to obtain permission or a signature to release any personal information; and efficient, competent, and organized doctor and office staff.
The following factors — cited as inducing mistrust — included:
- Lack of trustworthiness of doctor and staff: A lack of confidence in doctor or staff; history of inability to be trusted; a perception that the practice is more concerned with financial matters; age of a doctor (too young); inappropriate behaviour or relationships with patients; and poor knowledge of patients by staff or a lack of caring.
- Poor office procedures: Patients not informed regarding the practice’s privacy disclosure policy or confidentiality processes; office staff gossip too much or speak too loudly; inefficient and incompetent practice; billing errors; inaccurate or incomplete documentation; poor follow-up or have not received test results; a prior loss of medical records; high staff turnover; and office technology out of date.
- Weak or poor privacy and security: Too many people have access to records or know why a patient is visiting the doctor; small town settings in which everyone knows each other; and computer screens or personal records being left unattended or not kept in a secure private area.
The report is based on an August 2011 online survey of 1,961 U.S. adults, including 808 U.S. adults whose physician primarily uses a paper-based health record system. Click here to access the report.
Do these scenarios match your expectations and experiences in Canadian settings? Add your thoughts by clicking on the “Comments” link below.