Americans Wary of Privacy of Online Medical Information
Americans possess an "overwhelming distrust" of the Internet as a storage place for their medical information, Reuters Health reports. According to a new Gallup poll commissioned by the MedicAlert Foundation, almost 90% of participants said that, in general, the confidentiality of their personal health information was important, and almost 85% said they were "concerned" that this information could be given to others without their consent. Furthermore, while almost all respondents said they trusted their physicians to guard the privacy and security of their medical data, 88% said they "would not trust a Web site to protect this information." MedicAlert President Tanya Glazebrook said, "People still consider their medical information to be the most private information they have. [They] will give a credit card number on the Internet, but their medical information is still very private and they're afraid to give that out. There's a fear that this information can be used against you in a number of different ways." Glazebrook cited recent incidents in which personal information has been sold or shared by Web sites as one reason for individuals' wariness of online privacy. "People are paying a lot more attention than we thought to what's happening with privacy on the Internet. They're aware of the incidents on the Web where companies have promised not to divulge information and then broken those promises, so they're just not ready to trust when someone says this about their medical information," she continued. "We really do need to consider the opinion of consumers when we talk about privacy and confidentiality issues -- perhaps much more than we have been. People are not at all comfortable with existing ways of protecting personal information," she concluded (Wingate, Reuters Health, 11/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.