In 1999, the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) released a groundbreaking study of Americans' attitudes and behaviors concerning health privacy. The study found that nearly three out of four Americans had significant concerns about the privacy and confidentiality of their medical records.
Six years later, following implementation of national privacy protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the President's push to adopt electronic health records, a CHCF survey plumbed consumers' attitudes about the privacy of their health information.
Conducted by Forrester Research, the survey revealed that — despite federal protections under HIPAA — two in three Americans were concerned about the confidentiality of their personal health information and were largely unaware of their privacy rights.
In addition, one in eight patients reportedly engaged in behavior to protect personal privacy, presenting a potential risk to their health. More than half (52%) of respondents were concerned that employers may use health information to limit job opportunities, highlighting the implications of the privacy issue.
Yet despite these concerns, consumers reported a favorable view of new health technology, with a majority (59%) willing to share personal health information when it could result in better medical treatment.
As efforts to develop a nationwide health information network proceed, unaddressed concerns about personal privacy could have major implications.
The complete survey findings and an executive summary are available under Document Downloads.