What do patients think of engaging more with their personal health records? It has been highlighted by a recent study that patients could be encouraged towards greater usage of personal health records by their primary care physicians. Patient involvement with their healthcare records is important to physicians in the light of stage 2 meaningful use. Physicians are expected to provide online access to PHRs and also be able to exchange secure messages with their patients. In addition, they have to ensure that at least five percent of patients actually use both of these features. The study mentioned above found that patients showed willingness to engage more actively with their PHRs if their personal physician supported the technology.
There are a few significant points that emerged from the study.
- Patients who were willing to make more use of their PHRs wanted physicians to send registration invitations for their scheduled appointments in a timely manner. The problem was that the invitation to register was sent to them at a time when they did not have any care needs.
- An EHR system that was endorsed by their physician was more acceptable to patients because they trusted such a system and were confident that their PHI was secure.
- Patients were opposed to sharing healthcare data with insurance companies because they were concerned it would lead to coverage issues in the future.
- The patients surveyed wanted their personal health records to make communication with their physicians easy. They wanted the PHRs to contain their personal health information; at the same time they also identified some other things they wanted – these were personalized advice, prompts to discuss that advice, and the capability to prioritize those recommendations. In short, patients expected more functionality from their PHRs.
The right EHR system can improve healthcare outcomes and encourage patients to engage more with their personal health records. It can also mitigate any security concerns patients may have regarding their protected health information, and give them a sense of comfort when using the new system.