Healthcare News & Insights

Do patients care how their data is used?

As hospitals start collecting more data from patients, they’re finding that information can be used for purposes other than the person’s individual health care – such as marketing, quality improvement or other research. Are patients worried about their privacy when it comes to those secondary uses of their personal data? 

online-recruitingThe answer: Patients aren’t too concerned with their personal information being shared — but they do care what it’s being used for, says a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

For the study, researchers from University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center surveyed more than 3,336 adult patients and asked them to rate their willingness to share certain types of electronic health information for certain purposes and with certain groups.

Sensitivity not a factor

Not surprisingly, patients were more wary of allowing their personal data to be used for commercial endeavors — such as for marketing purposes — than they were when the information is used for medical research and other purely health-related causes.

Overall, the majority of survey respondents said the intended use of the information would effect whether they would want their data to be shared with other departments or organizations. The second biggest concern was the group that would be given access to their data.

However, what did surprise researchers is that very few people seem to care about the sensitivity of the data that’s being shared, which was the survey respondents’ smallest concern.

For providers that may have been on the fence about expanding their use of patient data for secondary purposes because a possible privacy-related backlash, these results show that patients may not be so worried, as long their information is used for the right reasons and kept in the hands of groups they trust.

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