What patients think of healthcare IT security

Earlier this week, CDW Healthcare released the results of a new survey about patient's perceptions of IT security in the healthcare industry as hospitals and doctors move to adopt electronic health records (EHRs). The Obama administration announced a five-year plan last year calling for the healthcare industry to implement electronic medical records in an effort to increase the safety of patient information and lower costs.

Of the 1,000 U.S. adults who participated in the survey, entitled "CDW Healthcare Elevated Heart Rates: EHR and IT Security Report," 49 percent believed that the move to EHRs would have a "significantly" or "somewhat" negative effect on the privacy of personal information and health data. Only 27 percent believed the transition would result in a positive effect.

Most survey respondents had little faith in the ability of anyone outside of their doctor's office to keep their information safe. According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents trusted their doctor's office to keep their personal health information safe. Only 10 percent of respondents felt like insurance companies could safeguard their records. The federal government (6 percent) and employers (7 percent) were the least trusted by people when it came to the security of medical records. Eighty-nine percent of respondents had either "complete" or "some degree" of trust in the ability of hospitals and outpatient facilities to protect their information.

The two biggest concerns among survey respondents regarding the use of their personal information were having it made available to anyone on the Internet (35 percent) or a criminal using it for blackmail or identity theft (22 percent).

To help alleviate the concerns of patients and better protect their health records, CDW Healthcare recommends that healthcare organizations perform an IT security assessment, immediately implement basic security measures such as installing antivirus software and network firewalls, and reassess IT security often.