Internet-based personal health records helpful to most HIV/AIDS patients who used them

Research Activities, November 2010, No. 363

Public health records (PHRs) are a free, secure, Internet-based application that allows patients to retrieve comprehensive information such as laboratory test results and to share their health information with providers. Clinicians may use the application to document and verify demographics, diagnoses, medications, and laboratory data. A new study shows that the majority of HIV/AIDS patients who used the PHR at a San Francisco General Hospital HIV/AIDS clinic found it helped them manage their disease.

The researchers activated a session tracking tool in order to measure online PHR use and added a 25-item evaluation survey to the PHR. Session usage was tracked for 136 persons, with the median number of sessions being 7 and the median session length being 4 minutes. Thirty-eight percent of this group completed the 25-item survey. Of these, more than 80 percent agreed that the PHR helped them manage their medical problems, prepared them better for their visits, and helped them take charge of their health care.

The most popular page contained laboratory values, lists of medical conditions, medication lists, and links to information about health conditions. The finding that nearly a third of patients did not agree that the information in their PHR was confidential was surprising. It is not clear whether this concern impacted patients' PHR use. The PHR, known as "myHERO," was made available at the HIV/AIDS clinic between March 2007 and December 2008. In this period, 221 of 3,760 patients registered for their online PHR account. Compared with the entire clinic, these initial users were more likely to be white, male, non-Hispanic, on antiretroviral medications, and have better control of their HIV infection.

The researchers believe that this project demonstrated that HIV/AIDS patients receiving care in a safety-net setting will choose to create, activate, and use a PHR. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17787).

See "Personal health records in a public hospital: Experience at the HIV/AIDS clinic at San Francisco General Hospital," by James S. Kahn, M.D. Joan F. Hilton M.D., T. Van Nunnery, and others in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 17, pp. 224-228, 2010.

Current as of November 2010
Internet Citation: Internet-based personal health records helpful to most HIV/AIDS patients who used them: Research Activities, November 2010, No. 363. November 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.