Healthcare News & Insights

Patients concerned about the privacy of HIE data

Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) will likely face several obstacles before they’re widely adopted and begin to improve care and cut costs – including concerns from patients about the privacy of their data. 

Doctors recognize the benefits of HIEs, but also see several challenges involved in implementing them, according to a survey from Doctors Helping Doctors Transform Health Care. The majority of physicians said they expected to see several benefits after an HIE is implemented, including:

  • Improvements in quality of care
  • Better ability for doctors to coordinate care
  • The ability to meet the demands of new models, such as accountable care
  • Easier reporting to third-party agencies
  • Opportunities to qualify for incentive programs
  • Greater efficiency in practice settings, and
  • Lower health care costs.

However, the biggest obstacles listed by the doctors surveyed were:

  • Lack of interoperability between various EHR systems (cited as a major barrier by 71% of respondents)
  • Lack of infrastructure to support an HIE (71%), and
  • The costs of setting up and maintaining interfaces and exchanges (68%).

A lesser number of physicians were worried about the security and privacy of the data that will be held by the HIEs. However, that’s going to be a big concern for patients, according to research conducted by the HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).

According to the poll of patients from four healthcare organizations in Upstate New York:

  • Patients want to know how their information will be used after it becomes part of an HIE
  • They’re worried about medical data being misused and not being kept properly secure
  • They want to know if they’ll be able to opt out of an HIE after giving consent, and
  • They’re concerned about what information payers will be able to access.

The ONC is expected to release the full results of the survey in the spring, but those highlights were presented at a January 8 meeting.

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