Date of Award
Master of Science (MSc)
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to explore an alternative method of secure data exchange of patient information among physicians using their existing email.
METHODS: A four-step framework was designed to effectively conduct the research. It involved designing a prototype of a web-based system called ST-SecRx to simulate secure communication between physicians while exchanging sensitive patient data through email. The simulation achieved through the system was meant to determine and measure response of physicians to the use of secure email or similar communication tools for exchanging patient data. Physicians were invited to use ST-SecRx and subsequently participate in a survey to determine its acceptability and their perceptions about the usefulness of the software. Finally, the data collected from the survey were analyzed.
RESULTS: Data were collected from 22 physicians from various healthcare facilities in the province of Ontario, Canada. Eliminating questionnaires with no response resulted in 19 valid responses. Results revealed that 57.9% used email support provided by their organization for exchanging patient data. Over 70% acknowledged that factors such as: ease of use, not having to use an email different from the one provided by their employer, not having to create and remember new password every three to six months, and data transfer complying with privacy regulations would facilitate their use of ST-SecRx. More than 50% of the physicians felt that the simulated system as demonstrated to them was more secure and easier to use when compared to previously used methods of patient data exchange through email. The majority of the physicians (from 57.9% to 73.7%) agreed with all the six questions on behavioral intention to use ST-SecRx. Overall 42% were willing to pay between $5 and $20 per month for ST-SecRx. Additional analysis of data by age, sex and discipline did not reveal any substantial differences in their enthusiasm to use the system.
CONCLUSION: The current research was successful providing data on what is important to clinicians who want to exchange data on patients with other clinicians. Use of systems similar to the prototype ST-SecRx could be an improvement over conventional email, provided that they would ensure security using encrypted technology under public key infrastructure methods and systems. Overall the physicians were satisfied with ST-SexRx and found it simple, fast, easy to use, and secure, and they indicated that they intended to use it if it were made available and it conformed to privacy and security standards. Also, such a secure system would have the potential to reduce the overall cost of healthcare by reducing duplication of diagnostic tests and making patient- specific information exchange faster. More research needs to be conducted with a larger sample size to validate the findings of this study. The limitations, dissatisfaction, and concerns expressed by the physicians who used ST-SecRx could direct future research. Future studies could include other healthcare professionals in the exchange of sensitive clinical data.
Basu, Runki, "DESIGNING A PROTOTYPE TO PROVIDE SECURE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PHYSICIANS: A SURVEY TO EXAMINE ACCEPTABILITY AMONG USERS" (2012). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 7546.
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