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Access To Personal Health Information Draws Data Security Concerns

While 74 percent of Americans want providers to have up-to-date access to personal health information, many report data security concerns.

As the digital health transformation progresses, many patients are pleased with increased access to personal health information. However, data security and privacy remains a concern for some, according to a survey conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of Axway.

The survey, conducted in April 2021, gathered insights from a nationally representative sample of 1,017 Americans about their digital healthcare experiences and their perception of health data security and privacy. 

According to the results, 43 percent of Americans believe they have adequate access to their EHR data, including scans, lab work, test results, and vaccination records. Additionally, almost half of the survey respondents (46 percent) reported that their patient portals are easy to use, and 64 percent said that patient portals granted them access to the information they were looking for.

However, 31 percent reported that while patient portals are easy to use, they do not provide much additional value to the patient care experience. The remaining 23 percent of respondents reported that patient portals are not easy to use.

Most Americans (62 percent) said that they believed their various healthcare providers (and/or services) should exchange their health information.

Similarly, 74 percent of respondents said that they want all their healthcare providers to have the same, most up-to-date personal health data to help decrease human errors and miscommunication, leading to better care. 

Of the remaining 26 percent of respondents who disagreed, half said they are concerned about doctors having access to personal health information without meeting them. The other half are mainly worried about security and privacy.

Overall, 60 percent of respondents said that they wanted more control over who has access to their personal health information. Additionally, 36 percent of patients reported that they do not believe their personal health data is safe from hackers and 27 percent said they are unsure if their data is secure.

Beginning on July 1, CMS will enforce its Interoperability and Patient Access final rule which requires payers and providers to break down the silos that prevent patient access to personal health information.

To comply with the interoperability and patient access final rule, many provider organizations are implementing application programming interfaces (APIs).

To ensure the patient health data security through APIs, CMS adopted Health Level 7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) Release 4.0.1 as the foundational data exchange standard.

“Patients have a right under HIPAA to access their health information,” CMS officials noted in a fact sheet. “We believe they also have a right to know their health information is exchanged in a way that ensures their privacy and security. We are working to balance these important issues in a way that empowers patients to be in charge of their healthcare.”

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