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Truven Health Analytics / NPR Health Poll Finds Majority of Americans Willing to Share their Health Data

Two-Thirds Will Allow Access to Medical Data, But Draw the Line at Credit Card Purchases and Social Media Information

Ann Arbor, MI, Nov. 20, 2014 — Three in four Americans say their physician uses an electronic medical record system, and 68 percent say they’re willing to share their health information with researchers. However, less than a quarter are willing to share their purchase history or social media activity, according to the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll. Truven Health Analytics™ and NPR conduct a monthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues. The survey asked respondents to share their views about electronic medical records (EMRs) and any potential privacy concerns these records may create. The results showed that 74 percent of Americans have a physician that utilizes an EMR, a rate that tended to increase with both increasing age and level of education. Ninety percent of respondents 65 years and older have a doctor that uses EMRs, while just 60 percent of Millennials say the same, both rates that are statistically significant.

Regarding privacy concerns that EMRs may present, 68 percent said they would allow their anonymous health data to be shared with researchers. But only 22 percent would grant their own physician or health plan with access to their credit card purchases or social media information, even if it might improve their overall health. Sixteen percent of respondents said they have worries about sharing their health records with their health insurer, followed by hospitals (14 percent), physicians (11 percent), and employers (10 percent).

Overall, 56 percent have reviewed the information kept by their physician, and just five percent of respondents said they have been informed their medical records were accessed without their permission. The latter occurred most frequently for respondents who make over $100, 000 (16 percent).

“An overwhelming number of patients have had experiences with EMRs, which seems to point towards a concerted effort among healthcare providers to share information as a means to faster, more accurate care, ” said Michael Taylor, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Truven Health Analytics. “While privacy concerns have been an issue in the past, as EMRs continue to become more prevalent, it appears that Americans are becoming increasingly comfortable sharing this type of information with employers, providers and health plans.”

To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, abortion, vaccines, food allergies, and organic and genetically modified foods. NPR's reports on the surveys are archived online at the Shots health blog.

Truven Health Analytics maintains a library of poll results

The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health PULSE® Healthcare Survey, the nation’s largest and longest-running independently funded, nationally representative multi-modal poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare utilization from 82, 000 US households annu

About Truven Health Analytics, part of the IBM Watson Health Business

Truven Health Analytics®, part of the IBM Watson Health™ business, provides market-leading performance improvement solutions built on data integrity, advanced analytics and domain expertise. For more than 40 years, our insights and solutions have been providing hospitals and clinicians, employers and health plans, state and federal government agencies, life sciences companies and policymakers, the facts they need to make confident decisions that directly affect the health and well-being of people and organizations in the US and around the world. The company was acquired by IBM in 2016 to help form a new business, Watson Health. Watson Health aspires to improve lives and give hope by delivering innovation to address the world’s most pressing health challenges through data and cognitive insights.

Truven Health Analytics owns some of the most trusted brands in healthcare, such as MarketScan®, 100 Top Hospitals®, Advantage Suite®, Micromedex®, Simpler® and ActionOI®. Truven Health has its principal offices in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, IL, and Denver, CO.


Brian Erni
For Truven Health Analytics
J. Roderick, Inc. Public Relations