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Privacy, Accountability Lead Health IT Concerns

Doctors and consumers want technology to play a great role in healthcare, but demand safeguards to protect patient privacy when information is shared, finds Markle Foundation study.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Slideshow: Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety

In a survey that gauged the opinions of doctors and patients on how health IT should be used in a modern healthcare system, both groups agreed on key requirements related to information sharing, patient privacy, and ways health IT can improve the quality of care.

The Markle Survey of Health in a Networked Life draws its findings from two surveys: one interviewed 1,582 members of the public, while the other surveyed 779 physicians.

Conducted in August by Knowledge Networks on behalf of the Markle Foundation, the findings revealed that both groups want public investments in IT to come with accountability and privacy protections, and hope these investments lead to improvements in the way healthcare is delivered to patients. The key findings also showed that both doctors and patients want technology to play a greater role in healthcare.

-- Among doctors, 74% would prefer computer-based means of sharing patient information with each other. (Only 17% of doctors predominantly use such means today.)

-- Nearly half (47%) of the doctors would prefer computer-based means of sharing records with their patients. (Only 5% do so today.) And 74% said patients should be able to share their information electronically with their healthcare providers.

-- Among the public, 10% reported currently having an electronic personal health record (PHR) -- up from 3% who reported having one in Markle's 2008 survey.

-- Roughly 2 in 3 of both groups (70% of the public and 65% of the doctors) agreed that patients should be able to download their personal health information online.

-- A full 70% of the public said patients should get a written or online summary after each doctor visit, but only 36% of the doctors agreed. (Only 4% of doctors say that they currently provide all their patients a summary after every visit).

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