The Promise of Electronic Health Information Exchange: A LIVESTRONG Report
In the future, health records will be shared and utilized across providers, researchers and patients. At LIVESTRONG, we believe that electronic health records (EHRs) and the exchange of health information has the potential to improve and enhance many areas of medical care. However, many questions about security, privacy, and the extent to which this will impact individual health are still unanswered. While companies, government agencies, and groups are exploring how best to adopt electronic health records, it is critical that the voices of people affected by cancer are heard and included in this discussion.
To better understand what people affected by cancer think about electronic health information and its exchange, LIVESTRONG fielded a survey from April until August, 2010. There were 8,371 individuals who completed the survey, all with some connection to cancer. The majority of respondents indicated that they have a family member or loved one who has or has had cancer.
The individuals affected by cancer who participated in this survey indicated that they value the promise of electronic health information exchange to improve the quality of health care. Overall, they expressed interest in being active participants in the health information exchange process, both as consumers and contributors of health information. The ability of health care providers to share information electronically and gain access to medical information was viewed as “very important” by a majority of participants. Most respondents (85%) believed that this process of sharing information would improve medical care for cancer patients.
In addition to being willing to provide personal medical information for use by medical doctors and researchers, they described wanting access to their own medical information. Nearly three-fourths of respondents (73%), indicated that they would be “very likely” to use a public health record if it was delivered by their health care provider.
Overall, this report highlights the willingness of cancer patients to share personal information in a secure format because of the benefits they would gain. The improved coordination, resulting increased quality of care, and the potential they would have to engage in decisions about their clinical care, are all reasons why electronic health records (EHRs) and the exchange of health information would be an important advance in healthcare for individuals impacted by cancer.