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Consumers Have Most Confidence In Physician’s Health Data Security

A full 87 percent of consumers surveyed by Rock Health said that they had confidence in the health data security of their physician, but that number dropped to 68 percent for pharmacies and 60 percent for health insurance companies.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- A full 87 percent of consumers surveyed by Rock Health said that they had confidence in the health data security of their physician, but that number dropped to 68 percent for pharmacies and 60 percent for health insurance companies.

Confidence in data security correlated closely with the consumers’ willingness to share their health data. Eighty-six percent of consumers said they were willing to share their health data with their physician, but only 58 percent were willing to share their data with health insurance companies and 52 percent were willing to share data with pharmacies.

Those numbers dropped significantly for other organizations, according to the survey of close to 4,000 consumers.

Forty-seven percent of respondents had confidence in the health data security of research institutions, 35 percent had confidence in pharmaceutical companies, 26 percent had confidence in government organizations, and 24 percent had confidence in tech companies.

These results closely correlate to willing to share health data. Forty-four percent of respondents were willing to share health data with research institutions, 21 percent were willing to share with pharmaceutical companies, 13 percent were willing to share with government organizations, and 10 were willing to share with tech companies.

The survey also found that consumers are more willing to use digital tools for healthcare. The percentage of those adopting at least one digital health tool increased from 80 percent in 2015 to 87 percent in 2017.

The survey also found that some groups still prefer traditional healthcare channels, that patient demographics influence readiness to pay out of pocket for expanded services, and that those with chronic conditions are selective in their uptake of digital health.

Digital health adoption is significantly higher among young, high-income adults compared to other consumer segments.

While aging adults have the second highest adoption of digital health technologies, those ages 18 to 35 making more than $75,000 are more likely to use digital tracking tools and wearables by a margin of more than 20 percentage points.

Chronically ill seniors have the greatest demand for healthcare services — 86 percent visited a doctor at least twice in the past year and 97 percent are managing at least one prescription. Yet, they are the least likely to leverage digital health technologies, with low rates for live video telemedicine use, digital health goal tracking, and wearable use.

Consumers who had a prior, in-person visit followed by a telemedicine interaction were significantly more likely to be satisfied with their telemedicine visit. Ninety-two percent of respondents with a prior in-person visit were satisfied with their video visit compared to 53 percent satisfaction among those without a prior in-person visit.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents have searched for an online review of a healthcare provider. This is an increase from 50 percent in 2015, with the increase largely coming from more searches for pharmacies and hospitals. A significant group of respondents reported taking action based on provider online reviews.

One-quarter of respondents said they own a wearable device or smart watch. However, more than one-quarter of those respondents said they no longer use the wearable.

Nearly 30 percent of users discontinued use after achieving their intended goal, while 20 percent stopped use because it was not effective in helping them achieve their goal.

The use of wearable for healthcare presents some HIPAA challenges. When consumers are collecting health data for their own use, HIPAA doesn’t come into play, said Pamela Greenstone, program director for the online health information management program at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Allied Health.

But when a healthcare provider asks consumers to supply it with the health data collected by their wearables, then HIPAA would likely apply.

“All wearables, once they are interfacing with your healthcare organization’s information, your physician practice EHR, that’s where HIPAA applies,” Greenstone said in an earlier interview with

“When your healthcare providers are now asking you to send all wearables data to them to monitor chronic conditions and to help you live a healthy lifestyle, it becomes a bigger onus for the healthcare organizations to make sure that data is protected and stored in a HIPAA-compliant way,” she said.


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