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More than half of people with chronic conditions say the ability to get their electronic medical records online outweighs the potential privacy risks, according to a new survey by Accenture.
Two-thirds, meanwhile, believe patients should have the right to access all of their healthcare information.
The results of the poll suggest a public increasingly frustrated by lack of sovereignty over their own health data.
The vast majority people surveyed by Accenture – 87 percent – say they want to control their health data. But 55 percent report they don't have very much or any control over their medical information.
Accenture polled 2,011 individuals – 918 of them healthy, and 1,093 with either asthma, arthritis, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, clinically diagnosed obesity, osteoporosis and stroke.
The survey found chronic patients to be less concerned about the privacy of their electronic health records, 65 percent, than they were about other personal information stored digitally, such as online banking (70 percent), in-store credit card use (69 percent) and online shopping (68 percent).
Still, although they're eager to have access to their records online, roughly half of those with chronic conditions said the top barrier to seeing the data was not knowing how to do so.
Accenture's findings also suggest, depending on the type of chronic illness they have, there are differences in a patient's ability to exercise control over his or her healthcare data. For example, 65 percent of consumers with heart disease reported having some level of control, compared to just 49 percent of individuals with COPD.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 47 percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease, but they account for 76 percent of all physician visits.
Nonetheless, these individuals are some of the most actively engaged patients at most stages of patient care, according to the poll – including during medical diagnosis (91 percent), managing treatment (87 percent) and maintaining general health on a day-to-day basis (84 percent).
"Healthcare will need to adapt to a new generation of individuals who are taking a more proactive role in managing their health and expect to have transparency," said Kaveh Safavi MD, who leads Accenture's global health business, in a press statement.
"As consumers continue to demand more access to their personal data online, we expect that patients will gain more power to manage some aspects of their own care," said Safavi. "This will not only make healthcare more effective but also more affordable, as consumers doing more for themselves will free up the system to be more productive."
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