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PHR adoption needs electronic workflows, change in patient behavior

Although the market for personal health record (PHR) services remains weak — as suggested by the recent demise of Google Health — a report from Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) shared what needs to change in order for PHRs to succeed.

Electronic health records (EHRs) provide a robust source of data for PHRs. However, a large majority of hospitals and small practices have yet to switch to electronic workflows. The persistence of paper records has slowed PHR adoption because health data needs to be electronically populated in real time across health care settings before reaching PHR services.

Providers and patients alike should focus on PHRs beyond only repositories of information. In addition to viewing them as binders that hold medical decisions, PHRs should also be utilized to influence those decisions. For patients, specifically, it should be viewed as an interactive tool to enhance the delivery of health information. With that said, PHRs must also offer timely access to a patient’s clinical information that doesn’t compromise daily workflow.

As a result of using PHRs, changes in medical behavior need to occur in order to reap its benefits. Regardless of patients feeling satisfied or happy by using PHR services, it does not make them healthier patients in all cases. A study in April 2010 by the California HealthCare Foundation found that 56% of users said that using a PHR made them feel like they know more about their health. However, only 32% said that PHR services actually led them take action to improve their health.

Proactive changes vary, but it “could be as simple as scheduling an overdue screening or as drastic as changing their entire diet — but without a majority of patients making some kind of change, the benefits of a PHR are limited,” according to CSC’s report.

CSC is a large government contractor that offers health care products regarding informatics, IT connectivity, EHR incentives and security among others.

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