Objectives: To characterize consumers' attitudes regarding the perceived benefits of electronic health information exchange (HIE), potential HIE privacy and security concerns, and to analyze the intersection of these concerns with perceived benefits.
Study design: A cross-sectional study.
Methods: A random-digit-dial telephone survey of English-speaking adults was conducted in 2010. Multivariate logistic regression models examined the association between consumer characteristics and concerns related to the security of electronic health records (EHRs) and HIE.
Results: A majority of the 1847 respondents reported they were either "very" or "somewhat" concerned about privacy of HIE (70%), security of HIE (75%), or security of EHRs (82%). Concerns were significantly higher (P <.05) among employed individuals 40 to 64 years old and minorities. Many believed that HIE would confer benefits such as improved coordination of care (89%). Overall, 75% agreed that the benefits of EHRs outweighed risks to privacy and security, and 60% would permit HIE for treatment purposes even if the physician might not be able to protect their privacy all of the time. Over half (52%) wanted to choose which providers access and share their data.
Conclusions: Greater participation by consumers in determining how HIE takes place could engender a higher degree of trust among all demographic groups, regardless of their varying levels of privacy and security concerns. Addressing the specific privacy and security concerns of minorities, individuals 40 to 64 years old, and employed individuals will be critical to ensuring widespread consumer participation in HIE.