Survey: Consumers consider PHRs essential to reduce medical errors, boost quality

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Most Americans want to have their medical records electronically available for themselves and healthcare providers which they believe, according to a new survey from the Markle Foundation, will help to reduce medical errors and help guarantee quality. But there’s a catch. About 80 percent of those surveyed are very worried about the security of information held in the records, and about 75 percent surveyed the government should step in to strengthen privacy and confidentiality protections.

"Americans understand that quality of care could improve and costs decrease when their health information is available over the Internet to them and those who care for them. And they are clearly ready to do their part to improve our health care system," said Zoe Baird, president of the Markle Foundation, which funded the research. "But consumers also have significant privacy concerns which must be addressed if we are to have sufficient consumer confidence to support a national commitment to electronic health records. People expect the federal government to establish rules that protect electronic personal health information from being used inappropriately."

Other findings from the survey show that:

  •   97 percent think physician electronic access to all of their medical records would enable the best care;
  •   96 percent said they as patients should have access all of their own medical records to make the best medical decisions;
  •   Sixty-five percent – across various demographics – would like to access all of their own medical information across an electronic network;
  •   In instances where a new doctor is used, 84 percent said it would be important for them to have electronic copies of their medical records that they keep and control; and
  •   Also, a majority of respondents indicated that they would be willing to anonymously share their personal information to help public officials look for disease outbreaks and research ways to improve care;

The survey shows that online access to information is also viewed as important:

  •   91 percent would like to review what their doctors write in their chart;
  •   88 percent said online records would be important in reducing the number of unnecessary or repeated tests and procedures;
  •   82 percent want to review test results online; and
  •   84 percent would like to check for errors in their medical record.

Americans also see think the use of personal health records would be beneficial in order to track symptoms or changes in their health, keep up with child immunizations, and would generally give them more control over their healthcare, according to the survey.