Researchers surveyed 1,009 individuals to gain insight into how Americans view data privacy, in the wake of massive breaches like those of Equifax and Facebook. They found 63 percent of individuals are deeply concerned about hackers gaining access to their Social Security numbers.
And 57 percent are concerned about unauthorized access to their credit card data.
But when asked who they trust most with their data, healthcare institutes, such as provider’s offices were ranked highest. Social media companies and internet search engines were least trusted when it comes to securing individuals’ data, with 31 percent saying they do not trust that search engines like Google will keep their data private.
And 44 percent of Americans have no trust in social media companies to protect the privacy of their data.
When it comes to search engines and health information, 30 percent of respondents said they are very concerned that the company with use this information to try selling them medical products or treatments, with 28 percent expressing concern this information could make it harder for them to receive medical care.
And 25 percent are very concerned that the private search information may hurt their chances of getting a job or health insurance.
About 32 million patient records have been breached so far in 2019. But despite those numbers, more than 34 percent of Americans greatly trust in their doctor’s office when it comes to protecting their patient data, compared with 29 percent of respondents expressing the same amount of trust in banks.
Those numbers decline when individuals were asked to rank their trust in hospitals, where nearly 24 percent greatly trust their hospital and just 17 percent trust their health insurance carrier to protect their data.
About 23 percent of Americans have set up a patient portal with their provider, but most respondents did not express much concern with a potential hacking risk. Just 26 percent said they are very concerned that an unauthorized user could access their patient information from the portal.
On the other hand, 15 percent they aren’t at all concerned about a potential hack.
The vast majority (81 percent) using the portal to view test results, while 59 percent used the portal to schedule an appointment, 42 used it to request a prescription refill, and 40 percent received advice about a health concern through the platform.
“Broadly, while many Americans express serious misgivings about data privacy when it comes to social media sites and internet search engines, they report substantially more trust that their private health information will remain secure,” the researchers wrote.
In comparison, 12 percent of Americans trust their cellphone carrier or operating system, and credit card companies, while 11 percent have the same amount of trust in their personal or work email vendor or online retailers. Only 7 percent expressed strong trust in the federal government.
But just 36 percent are concerned about access to their email and text messages or details of their physical location (34 percent). And just 31 percent expressed concern about the privacy of their health data or the medicines they take.
The researchers hypothesized that these numbers likely stem from the fact 25 percent of respondents experienced a hack of their personal information, including their health data, Social Security number, or credit card information, which harmed them in some way in the past.