Roughly half of patients withhold clinically sensitive information stored in their electronic medical records (EMRs) from some or all of their health care providers, according to a study recently published in the Journal of General Medicine.
Over the course of 6 months, researchers from Clemson University, the Regenstrief Institute, the Indiana University School of Medicine, and Eskenazi Health set out to determine how much information held within 105 patients’ EMRs was revealed to health care professionals.
Based on the study data, the authors concluded that at least 49% of the patients withheld some form of information contained in their EMRs, and one-quarter of their providers said they felt very uncomfortable about not having access to that hidden information. In fact, many of those clinicians worried that not knowing all of a patient’s EMR data would jeopardize his or her care.
Nevertheless, the researchers also found that patients strongly desire a high level of control over the information stored in their EMRs, and they put that control in place when offered the option to restrict providers’ access.
"It is critically important to consider patients' privacy preferences about their health information," said study co-author Kelly Caine, PhD, in a Clemson press release. "If we fail to design systems that meet patients' needs and desires about the extent to which their health data are shared, patients will reject them or even refuse to seek care."