Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This Is A Very Interesting Summary of Public Attitudes on EHR Security in The UK and US. I Suspect Australians Would Be Pretty Similar.

The following appeared a few days ago:

U.K. patients demand higher security for medical records

November 03, 2011 | Jamie Thompson, Web Editor
A recent survey, released by FairWarning, Inc., details the overwhelming demand for tighter protections against data theft of medical records. The poll of more than 1,000 individuals reveals that U.K. patients think hospital executives should be held accountable for breaches of protected health information.
Patients concerned that their medical and personal information could be stolen want the NHS to take firm steps to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement of privacy regulations, and that access to their medical records is strictly controlled.
Major findings from the survey include:
  • 87.1 percent of respondents think chief executives should be fired or fined if they were aware of threats to protected health information but failed to act and a serious breach occurred
  • 73.3 percent think better enforcement of regulations would decrease breaches
  • 62.1 percent approve of a national league table that shows the best and worst hospitals for data security
  • 86.5 percent think a serious breach of medical information would cause damage to a hospital’s reputation
  • 87.2 percent think the NHS should monitor who uses their files
More than 50 percent of respondents said they have or would withhold information about a sensitive personal medical matter from a healthcare provider with a poor record of protecting patient privacy. Nearly half of respondents went even further to say that they have or would put off seeking treatment if a hospital had a poor reputation for security.
More here:
This seemed so interesting I thought it was worth going to the source:

Nationwide Survey Reveals Demand by Patients for Medical Record Privacy Guarantees Against Security Breaches

Report details that patients postpone seeking treatment out of confidentiality concerns

London, UK – 13th October 2011 – FairWarning Inc – the inventor and world’s leading supplier of cross-platform healthcare privacy auditing solutions for electronic health records (EHRs) - today released the findings of a major survey which reveals overwhelming demand for patients’ medical records to be guaranteed against data theft and snooping. The independent poll of 1,001 respondents showed that patients believe that hospital chief executives and top managers should be held accountable for healthcare privacy protections and breaches.
The survey also revealed that confidentiality concerns could have a direct impact on people’s health. Nearly four in 10 said they have, or would, put off seeking treatment, and well over half, have or would withhold information from clinicians, if a hospital had a poor reputation for security. Many respondents stated that they would travel substantial distances (37% would go 30 miles or more) to avoid being treated at a hospital they did not trust, in order to keep sensitive information confidential.
Kurt Long, founder and CEO of FairWarning®, said: “Modern patient care is very much information-based. Any obstacle to the free flow of information between care providers and patients, such as those caused by privacy concerns, can prevent patients from receiving the best possible care. Patients across the UK have enormous faith in the NHS, but this survey reveals that more needs to be done for medical information to be shared and exchanged securely, and so to ensure the best patient outcomes.”
The survey showed that patients are worried that sensitive medical and personal information could be stolen and used by criminals for theft or fraud, or disclosed to employers or family – with serious consequences for their careers or relationships.
Most of those taking part in the poll had high demands of what the NHS should deliver in terms of confidentiality, wanting effective monitoring and firm enforcement of regulations. They also revealed that leaks and theft of personal data could do huge damage to the reputation of the health service. A large majority wanted access to their records to be strictly controlled and want to see strong deterrents to prevent further breaches.
The main findings of the survey included that:
·         87.1% agree that chief executives and senior management should be sacked or fined if they were aware of risks but failed to act and there is a serious breach. Only 1.3% disagree.
·         73.3% felt that better enforcement of rules and regulations would cut security breaches.
·         62.1% approve of having national league tables to show the best and worst hospitals for data security – only 9.7% disapprove.
·         86.5% think that a serious breach of personal data would do severe or considerable damage to a hospital’s reputation.
·         87.2% strongly or somewhat agree that the NHS should monitor who looks at their files.
The survey reveals that confidentiality concerns have a direct impact on the outcomes of care, and that patients were concerned about how their records could be misused:
·         Over 61% were very or somewhat worried that their identity could be used to commit fraud or used by criminals to target them, their family or home.
·         53.6% have, or would, withhold information about a sensitive personal medical matter from a healthcare provider with a poor record of protecting patient privacy.
·         38.3% have, or would, put off seeking care for a sensitive medical condition due to privacy concerns.
A total of 41 UK respondents (over 4%) claimed their medical records had already been breached. Some had information used against them in legal actions, had their identities stolen and suffered financially. However, 75.5% of UK patients said they value electronic records as a way for clinicians to share information and keep it up-to-date.
Where FairWarning® has introduced privacy breach detection and auditing solutions to monitor electronic records systems, the levels of staff snooping into patient files with no professional reason to do so, has been reduced by an average of 97%.
For a full copy of the survey results and methodology, please visit
The full release is here:
Now, while Fairwarning has something to sell, this really is just invaluable research. Especially the material on how people who have sensitive clinical conditions behave.
I recommend a download of the full report to all interested in the area!
Usefully there is also a US report covering US attitudes here:
A visit to the web site to see what is offered is fun.
I hope NEHTA is having a look! They do need some help in this area I believe!

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