Survey Finds Americans Want Electronic Personal Health Information to Improve Own Health Care

November 1, 2006 | Report, White Paper
Markle Foundation

Survey shows that consumers view personal health records as an important element in reducing medical errors and increasing quality of care. Consumers see key role for government in protecting privacy, setting guidelines for sharing data.


Lake Research Partners (LRP) and American Viewpoint conducted a survey among 1,003 Americans nationwide, November 11 – 15, 2006, for the Markle Foundation. The survey examined public opinion toward electronic personal health records, including consumers’ level of interest, the benefits of and concerns about online health information, and the role of the government in encouraging health information exchange networks and establishing privacy protections.

Survey results reveal a few key attitudinal themes regarding electronic personal health information. First, Americans want access to their personal health information electronically because they believe that the online services enabled by such access is likely to increase their quality of care. Additionally, the public sees online records as a way to increase health care efficiency by reducing unnecessary and repeated tests and procedures.

A desire for more control over their health care also seems to be behind the public’s interest in electronic personal health information. However, identity theft and privacy risks are still top concerns for the public, and they believe there is a role for government to play in ensuring the security of electronic personal health information.

Specific findings include:

  • Two-thirds of the public (65%) is interested in accessing their own personal health information electronically. This interest spans demographic groups – with a majority (53%) of Americans 60 and older and high proportions of minority groups, including African-Americans and Latinos, expressing interest.
  • Large majorities see a number of benefits of accessing information online, which could lead to a reduction in health care costs. For example, nearly nine in 10 Americans (88%) say online records would be important in reducing the number of unnecessary or repeated tests and procedures they undergo.
  • Americans express strong concern that their information may be used for purposes other than their own care. Eight in 10 Americans (80%) say they are very concerned about identity theft or fraud or the possibility of their information getting into the hands of marketers (77%).
  • Americans believe they could gain more control over their health care by using electronic personal health records. For example, ninety percent say it would be personally important to track their symptoms or changes in health care online. 

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Categories: Public Opinion Surveys, Health

Tags: patient engagement, privacy, survey, EHR/PHR