Healthcare Information Security

Mobile News

Patient perspective on eHealth, mobile privacy and security

By Patrick Ouellette

- According to recently-released results from a Ponemon Institute and Experian Data Breach Resolution report, there are still eHealth services and mobile application privacy and security questions among consumers and patients.

The report, titled Risks & Rewards of Online & Mobile Health Services: Consumer Attitudes Explored, reviewed nearly 1,000 consumers’ perceptions about sharing their personal information when using online health services and mobile apps. Ponemon found that some consumers may be wary of adopting new technologies because of data breach and identity theft risks and how they think the problems can be fixed. With responses divided between the 48 percent of respondents who do use eHealth services and the 52 percent who do not, the report details respondents’ privacy and security concerns.

There were a number of privacy and security takeaways from the report. First, 58 percent of Internet users believe accessing their medical records online puts their personal health information at risk. There’s also an impact on mobile app usage, as 61 percent of Internet users would stop using their favorite mobile health app if a data breach occurred. Moreover, medical identity theft remains a concern, as 56 percent are either “very concerned or concerned about the theft of their health-related personal information or insurance credentials.”

According to the report, 61 percent of respondents said they would stop using their favorite mobile health app if the provider had a data breach involving the loss or theft of personal information. Similarly, 58 percent would end use of their favorite online health resource (i.e. WebMD). Additionally, 69 percent of respondents deemed online health services having adequate security safeguards in place to be important. Another 58 percent said privacy is essential or very important and 55 percent maintained that anonymity is essential or very important.

And 74 percent of Internet users over the age of 36 believe proper security safeguards are critical for online health services. Meanwhile, 63 percent of younger users (under the age of 35) believe they’re important. But the younger demographic is more concerned with anonymity than privacy or security (61 percent of younger users vs. 48 percent of older users).

From a regulatory perspective, 48 percent of non-users believe increased regulatory protections are necessary as opposed to 39 percent of users and 35 percent believe it should be the government’s responsibility and another 35 percent argue it should be the online health service or mobile app provider.

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