Public Attitudes about Health Information Technology, and Its Relationship to Health Care Quality, Costs, and Privacy



Objective. To understand Americans' attitudes concerning health information technology's (IT's) potential to improve health care and differences in those attitudes based on demographics and technological affinity.

Data Sources/Study Setting. A random-digit-dial sample with known probability of selection for every household in the United States with a telephone, plus a supplemental sample of cell phone users. Telephone interviews were conducted from August 2009 through November 2009.

Study Design. Data were analyzed to present univariate estimates of Americans' opinions of health IT, as well as multivariate logistic regressions to assess hypotheses relating individuals' characteristics to their opinions. Characteristics used in our model include age, race, ethnicity, gender, income, and affinity to technology.

Findings. A large majority (78 percent) favor use of electronic medical records (EMRs); believe EMRs could improve care and reduce costs (78 percent and 59 percent, respectively); believe benefits of EMR use outweigh privacy risks (64 percent); and support health care information sharing among providers (72 percent). Regression analyses show more positive attitudes among those with higher incomes and greater comfort using electronic technologies.

Conclusion. The findings suggest that American's believe that health IT adoption is an effective means to improve the quality and safety of health care.