African Americans and Latinos Worry about Confidentiality of Electronic Health Records

A personal health record holds an individual's health information and is controlled by the individual rather than by any segment of the health care system. In 2006–07, researchers at Mathematica Policy Research conducted three focus groups with African Americans and Latinos to gauge their knowledge of and thoughts about personal health records. The researchers also examined existing personal health records.

Key Findings

  • Focus group participants were generally unfamiliar with the concept of the personal health record but recognized its potential for improving health care.

  • Most participants distrusted the security of electronic records systems and preferred a record kept on a portable "smart card."

  • Participants want control over who has access to their personal information, and what information they can see.

  • Most existing personal health records lack many of the features, such as smart cards, that would appeal to the populations represented in the focus groups.