Patient concerns over data security highlighted by new report

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According to a recent report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers, although some patients are concerned about the security of their health information in medical informatics systems, many would be willing for their data to be shared if it meant improvements in the quality of care, reports Information Week.

The global consulting firm polled around 1,000 consumers about their opinions on the sharing of personal medical information across medical informatics systems. The results of the study indicate that one in three respondents said the security of patient health information would be a contributing factor in their choice of healthcare provider. Transparency of privacy and data-sharing policies were also important to these consumers.

However, many patients stated that they would be comfortable with their data being shared by healthcare providers if it meant measurable gains in the quality of the care they received. Approximately 60 percent of individuals polled stated that improved coordination of care was an acceptable reason for the sharing of patient health data, and 54 percent indicated that supporting real-time care decisions would also be an acceptable use of their information.

According to Deven McGraw, director of the Health Privacy Project for the Center for Democracy, although support for widespread adoption of clinical informatics systems remains strong by the general public, there are considerable concerns over the privacy of patient data.

During testimony to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law last year, McGraw stated that 80 percent of patients were concerned about identity theft, 77 percent were concerned about their medical data being used for marketing purposes, and 56 percent expressed hesitation about their employers gaining access to their medical histories. McGraw cited the results of a 2006 report on patient data concerns as part of his testimony.