Personal Health Record (PHR) usage remains low, despite conventional wisdom that it could improve the health outcomes of pa
tients with chronic conditions. Evantage Consulting created an internal project to understand the factors that are contributing to the low use of PHRs and evaluate if a caregivers involvement could help drive its use and improve the health outcomes of people with chronic conditions.
Based on the qualitative study conducted with 20 chronically ill patients and/or their caregivers, we found that the caregiver’s involvement in managing a patient’s PHR could drive its use. However the current PHRs meet limited needs of patients with chronic conditions. To drive PHR use and improve health outcomes, patients and caregivers need simpler and more effective PHRs that can fit in their everyday life. The study was conducted in the months of August-September, 2010. All the people interviewed were using one of the available PHRs (Google Health, Microsoft health Vault, a provider-sponsored PHR, or payer-sponsored PHR).
Some of the key findings were:
PHRs are not replacing spreadsheets
73% of the participants used spreadsheets to track vital signs, cheap car insurance quotes and once they used a spreadsheet they did not want to track this information using a PHR. They found the spreadsheets easier to customize based on their health needs and easier to update on a daily basis, as the spreadsheets were not behind an Internet login.
PHRs are not being utilized fully
People used only 25% of the available PHR features. The key factor for this is the concern around data privacy. While people were comfortable adding medications and physician contacts in an independent PHR like Google Health they were not comfortable accessing their lab results via Google Health. Some of the reasons cited were uncertainty about who could access their health information, a fear of being solicited by the partners, and a realization that hacking into the site would be as easy as breaking into their email account.
PHRs are falling short as a patient empowerment tool
Only 6% of the people had taken a positive health action based on their PHR. 60% used it to store information on their physicians, medications and allergies. People were more likely to talk to their physician about the information they found via online search instead of information in their PHR.
The presentation below provides insights on who is using PHRs today, what they are using them for, and what is working or
not working for them. The presentation also provides suggestions on how to design a simple and more effective PHR for people with chronic conditions.
The research findings were presented at the HIMMS Fall Technology Conference in Minneapolis on October 18th, 2010.