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Xerox: Nearly Half of Americans Concerned About Theft of Their Health Information

Healthcare data breaches in 2016 reached record levels, while 2015 saw more healthcare records stolen than the combined total stolen over the previous six years. Those data breaches have naturally had an effect on how healthcare patients view the security of their medical data.

OCR figures show that since 2009, 166 million healthcare records have been stolen or exposed – that’s 52% of the population of the United States. It is therefore understandable that patients are worried about data security. A recent Xerox eHealth survey has revealed the extent to which patients are worried about the data held by their healthcare providers.

In January 2017, 3,000 U.S. adults over the age of 18 were surveyed by Harris Poll for the Xerox survey. The survey revealed that 44% of healthcare patients are worried about their healthcare data being stolen.

However, even with the high number of data breaches, patients are overwhelmingly in support of the transmission of electronic health data over more outdated communication methods such as faxing. 76% of survey respondents said secure electronic sharing of healthcare data was better than faxing health information. Patients also appreciate the benefits that come from the secure, electronic sharing of healthcare data. 87% of respondents said the ability of their healthcare providers to share data digitally could decrease waiting times for diagnoses and medical test results.

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That said, patients are frustrated by the inability of healthcare providers to share healthcare data, as Xerox Healthcare Industry Senior Vice President Cees Van Doorn explains, “Patients are frustrated by the lack of care coordination and disjointed processes, so much so, that our Xerox survey shows 19 percent of Americans would rather wait in line at the DMV than coordinate between different doctors’ offices to ensure they have all of their records and health information.”

While the survey suggests that healthcare patients are open to secure, electronic sharing of healthcare data, not all patients are entirely comfortable with providing their details to physicians. In fact, a previous study published by Black Book suggests that patients are holding back healthcare data due to data security fears. 89% of patients said they held back medical information from their healthcare providers, with 93% of those respondents saying they held back information due to security concerns.

Another Black Book market research survey suggests that even if patients are comfortable with the secure sharing of health data, exchanging information is still problematic. A quarter of healthcare administrators said they are unable to access patient data from external sources and 70% of hospitals do not have external health data in their EHR systems’ workflow.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.