Americans Willing To Share Health Data: Survey

ANN ARBOR — Three out of four Americans say their physician uses an electronic medical record system, and 68 percent say they’re willing to share their health information with researchers.

However, less than a quarter are willing to share their purchase
history or social media activity, according to results from the
latest Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll.

Truven, a health care information and consulting firm in Ann
Arbor, and National Public Radio conduct a monthly poll to
gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.
The latest survey asked respondents to share their views about
electronic medical records and any potential privacy concerns
these records may create.

The results showed that 74 percent of Americans have a
physician that uses an EMR, a rate that tended to increase with
both increasing age and level of education. Ninety percent of
respondents 65 years and older have a doctor that uses EMRs,
while just 60 percent of Millennials say the same, both rates that
are statistically significant.

Regarding privacy concerns that EMRs may present, 68 percent
said they would allow their anonymous health data to be shared
with researchers. But only 22 percent would grant their own
physician or health plan with access to their credit card
purchases or social media information, even if it might improve
their overall health. Sixteen percent of respondents said they
have worries about sharing their health records with their health
insurer, followed by hospitals (14 percent), physicians (11
percent), and employers (10 percent).

Overall, 56 percent have reviewed the information kept by their
physician, and just five percent of respondents said they have
been informed their medical records were accessed without
their permission. The latter occurred most frequently for
respondents who make over $100,000 (16 percent).

“An overwhelming number of patients have had experiences
with EMRs, which seems to point towards a concerted effort
among healthcare providers to share information as a means to
faster, more accurate care,” said Michael Taylor, M.D., Truven’s
chief medical officer. “While privacy concerns have been an
issue in the past, as EMRs continue to become more prevalent,
it appears that Americans are becoming increasingly
comfortable sharing this type of information with employers,
providers and health plans.”

To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has
explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs,
abortion, vaccines, food allergies, and organic and genetically
modified foods. NPR’s reports on the surveys are archived
online at the Shots health blog here.

Truven Health Analytics maintains a library of poll results at

The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the
Truven Health Pulse Healthcare Survey, the nation’s largest and
longest-running independently funded, nationally representative
multi-modal poll that collects information about health-related
behaviors and attitudes and healthcare utilization from 82,000
US households annually. Survey questions are developed in
conjunction with NPR. The figures in this month’s poll are based
on 3,003 participants interviewed Aug. 1-16. The margin of error
is 1.8 percent.

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