Survey Finds Patients Extemely Concerned About PHI Privacy Protection

A recent survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Savvy Cooperative has revealed that patients are extremely concerned about the lack of security and inability to secure the confidentiality of their protected health information (PHI). 

The survey was launched by the AMA to examine patient’s perspectives on the confidentiality of their health information in order to determine how the healthcare sector and the government can assist patients and their healthcare providers in improving the protection of their healthcare information and strengthen their relationships. 

The survey consisted of 1,000 U.S. adults. According to the survey, 92 percent of participants agree that their privacy is a fundamental right and that no business or individual should be allowed to purchase their information. 94 percent of participants indicated that businesses that collect, retain, analyze, or utilize health data should be held legally liable and approximately 93 percent of patients want health application developers to disclose if and how their product complies with industry standards for managing health data. 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was introduced to establish health information privacy standards for healthcare organizations such as healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearinghouses, and business associates of those organizations. HIPAA-regulated entities must adhere to strict requirements concerning the uses and disclosures of healthcare information. However, the survey discovered that patients are still concerned about who has access to their information and are confused about the laws protecting their privacy. According to the survey, 75 percent of participants are concerned about the privacy of their information. 

The survey also confirmed that approximately 88 percent of patients believe their physicians should review and confirm the legitimacy of the health apps before their data is shared. Participants also had significant concern about large tech companies’ access to their data. 59 percent of respondents were concerned that companies would exploit their health information against them. 88 percent of respondents would prefer physicians to review and verify health care applications before disclosing their health information. 

The AMA has stated that much more work is needed to improve clarity on how applications use patient health information and has advised additional steps providers can take to increase transparency on what the applications do with the information. 

“The AMA is highly concerned that patients’ private medical information is increasingly vulnerable and digital patient data is being shared beyond the confines of the HIPAA framework without protections of federal privacy,” said AMA President Jack Resneck Jr. “That medical information was previously being siphoned off and monetized was always a concern. Now, it’s a legal threat as zealous prosecutors can track patients and access their medical records to determine what medical services were provided.”