Physicians' unfamiliarity with electronic personal health records may slow their adoption

Research Activities, June 2011, No. 370

Personal health records (PHRs) have the potential to improve health care quality. PHRs can also coordinate fragmented health information such as test results and medical records from different providers and incorporate new data sources such as patient-reported blood pressure or glucose readings. PHRs have been defined as any health record maintained by the patient, including paper-based, Web-based, carried on a USB drive, or something else.

In order to elicit the views of physicians and medical staff on the benefits of, barriers to, and use of electronic PHRs, the researchers conducted four focus groups consisting of 28 providers from four different family medical practices in Iowa. Five main themes emerged: PHR benefits, concerns with PHRs, how PHRs might be used by providers, PHR maintenance, and perceptions about how patients might use and interact with PHRs. PHRs were considered beneficial for patients who traveled a lot, had complex medical conditions, or were visiting an emergency room. Providers could use PHRs to get an up-to-date list of medications, past medical history, and a list of providers.

The principal concerns expressed by physicians were with accuracy and privacy of the PHRs. Some expressed concern over who can enter data into the PHR. Others expressed doubts that patients would take the necessary responsibility for creating a PHR and keeping it updated.

The study's authors suggest that providers predominantly view PHRs as a backup source of medical information to the patient's medical record as opposed to a tool for patients. Providers' relative unfamiliarity with electronic PHRs appears to have created preconceptions about PHRs that may slow PHR adoption. This study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17034 and HS16094).

See "Family physicians perceptions of personal health records," by Matthew J. Witry, Pharm.D., William R. Doucette, Ph.D., Jeanette M. Daly, Ph.D., and others in the Winter 2010 Perspectives in Health Information Management, pp. 1-14, 2010.

Current as of June 2011
Internet Citation: Physicians' unfamiliarity with electronic personal health records may slow their adoption: Research Activities, June 2011, No. 370. June 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.