Three out of four Americans think it’s important that their health care provider use electronic health records. But nearly 60% say they are not confident these records, which can be shared online, will remain confidential, a new national consumer survey shows.

The survey found that 67% of Americans think it’s likely that electronic records would improve the overall quality of U.S. medical care, and 62% say the automated records would improve the quality of care their family receives.

The survey, however, revealed a mixed picture of the public’s view of the economic value of EHRs. It found that 34% of respondents believe electronic records would cause the overall cost of health care to go up, while 22% believe they would lead to lower costs. Another 36% believe they would have no impact.

The telephone survey of 1,238 randomly selected respondents was conducted in March. It was sponsored by National Public Radio (NPR), the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

In an interview with NPR, Mollyann Brodie, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s polling director, said that Americans have a lot of experience with computerized information and accept the privacy risks involved. Americans do much of their banking and shopping online, she notes, despite their concerns about privacy.

Among the survey’s other findings:

• 76% say it’s likely that electronic records would make it likely an unauthorized person would get access to their records.

• 58% say electronic records would lead to fewer people getting unnecessary care, and 53% say they would lead to fewer people getting sick or dying as a result of medical errors.

• 46% say their doctor usually enters health information into a computer during a visit.

• 9% say they have accessed medical test results online.

Complete results of “The Public and the Health Care Delivery System” survey, which covers a broad range of health care topics beyond electronic records, are available at

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