Why are people so afraid of EHR technology?

For some reason, many patients are afraid of using electronic health record software or putting their health information onto it. Much of the public believes that paper health records are safer and more secure than electronic health records, Mansur Hasib of Information Week’s Health Care stated.

Manual vs. electronic
During state health exchange services last year, Healthcare.gov provided an automatic service to the public where they could electronically submit all of their health information. Patients who used this tool would be automatically verified in the system right away. Patients could also choose to be manually verified, which would require them to wait and have their health information viewed by a caseworker. The caseworker would then have to contact the applicant to verify health information details like legal status and date of birth. The manual route could take weeks or months for applicants to get approved for health insurance. In a world where convenience is everything, most would assume patients would prefer the automatic route. However, they did not.

So why is this?

Hasib noted there are a few reasons why patients are so hesitant when it comes to EHRs, despite their convenience. Many applicants believe that putting their records into an electronic format would hinder them from accessing them later. Applicants also did not know the manual method would delay their application so much. People were overall fearful of technology.

Paper records are less secure
Many patients do not realize that regardless of how they initially submit information, eventually it will be converted to an electronic format. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that in 2013, 78 percent of office-based physicians used EHRs. Contrary to popular belief, paper records are much less secure than EHRs. Consider these reasons why paper records are less safe:

  • There is no viewing record. With paper, people cannot tell if anyone looked at their medical information. If they did, no one knows how long the information was looked at, how it was accessed and so on. Patients do not even know if the person who looked at the information was authorized to. With EHRs, if a perpetrator viewed information illegally, it is much easier to track him or her down.
  • There are no backup copies. There are no backup copies of paper medical records, so if something is lost in a fire or endures water damage, there is no way to repair it. Electronic records allow for backups to be made in case emergencies happen.
  • It cannot be accessed from anywhere. Multiple physicians and doctors do not have access to paper records unless they are at the same location. So, if a life-saving decision needs to be made, doctors will be unsure what medications can and cannot be used without a complete record. With an EHR, the complete medical record can be accessed so doctors can view any medication allergies, surgeries and general health history.
  • Some are illegible. Paper documents can sometimes be difficult to read because of handwriting styles. EHRs are easy to read since all information is written in computer font.
  • There is no control. With paper documents, patients cannot decide when and where to share it, or fix any incorrect or old information. Custodians of information are legally bound to keep their information up to date. Patients can update and access their information whenever they want to, from wherever they are.

Hasib hopes that patients will soon realize the benefits of using EHRs for all their medical information for easier living.

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