When patients have control over health data, they restrict providers, study shows

When patients can choose who views their health data, 50 percent restrict healthcare provider access, according to a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Researchers applied Fair Information Practice Principles — Federal Trade Commission principles stating individuals should have control over who accesses their personal information online — to health data for 105 patients in a primary care clinic.

Patients could allow or restrict provider access to all data or only sensitive data. Participating providers had the ability to "break the glass" during patient visits and see what information patients had redacted, if they so desired.

Forty-nine percent of patients set their preferences to withhold some kind of data. During the 6-month study period, 88 percent of the study patients had clinic visits, during which providers viewed their records 48 percent of the time. Providers chose to "break the glass" 102 times in total for patients both in and out of the study group.

Providers "broke the glass" infrequently — for 14 percent of study patients with redacted data returning for visits — despite the majority opinions (58 percent) that restricting EHR access could harm patient-provider relationships and quality of care (71 percent).

In all, 54 percent of providers felt patients should have control over who views their health information.

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