Electronic Health Record systems (EHRs) offer numerous benefits in health care but also pose certain risks. As we progress toward the implementation of EHRs, a more in-depth understanding of attitudes that influence overall levels of EHR support is required.
To record public and physicians' awareness, expectations for, and ethical concerns about the use of EHRs.
A convenience sample was surveyed for both the public and physicians. The Public's Questionnaire was distributed to the public in a printed and an online version. The Physicians' Questionnaire was distributed to physicians in an online version. The questionnaires requested demographic characteristics followed by close-ended questions enquiring about awareness, perceived impact, perceived risks, and ethical issues raised by EHR use.
In total, 46% of the public and 91% of physicians were aware of EHRs. Physicians' and public opinions were comparable concerning the positive impact of EHRs on better, more effective, and faster decisions on the patients' health, on better coordination between hospitals/clinics and on quality and reduced cost of health care. However, physicians were concerned that an EHR system would be a burden for their finances, for their time concerning training on the system, for their everyday workload and workflow. The majority of the public generally agreed that they would worry about the possibility that a non-authorized, third party might gain access to their personal health information (48.8%), and that they would worry about future discriminations due to possible disclosure of their health information (48.8%). Most physicians disagreed that EHRs will disrupt the doctor-patient relationship (58.1%) but they would worry about the safety of their patients' information (53.1%). Overall, both the public and physicians were in favor of the implementation of an EHR system, evaluating that possible benefits are more important than possible risks. The majority of the public believed that physicians should have full access to an EHR (90.9%), whereas nursing staff, pharmacists, laboratory staff, and other healthcare professional should have partial access.
The factors identified in the present study present actionable insights that may increase awareness about EHRs. The survey illustrates that both the public and physicians acknowledge the benefits and support EHRs on the condition that sufficient guarantees are provided about privacy and security.