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All Things HIT

Aug 17 2012   1:00PM GMT

Recent studies link importance of PHR use

Posted by: AllinHIT

With some “free” time, back from a 6 month Epic training and go-live gig, I immersed myself in the last 30 days worth of HealthIT news, CMS HealthIT deliverables, and ALL THINGS HIT. During my studies, I noticed a common theme in the last month, the multi-dimensional affect of Personal Health Records (PHR) was being reported on. PHR usage, based on studies we will discuss, has a positive effect on payor membership, preventative medicine, and of course this all translates to enhancing patient care. So, what were these studies reflecting PHR’s importance?

Kaiser Permanente in mid July, published the results of a three (3) year study on the link between PHR usage and membership retention.  The study ( examined the relationship between patient loyalty and member retention with those frequent users of Kaisers’ “My Health Manager” PHR.  The study concluded members were 2.6 times more likely to remain members. What I also found interesting was the strongest loyalty was among the members with the shortest tenure. Can we conclude that new members are a part of a younger, more tech-savvy workforce? As the economy improves for college grads, will the demand and use of PHR’s increase?  Another interesting publication on PHR’s, came from the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.  The publication relates PHR use with increasing patients compliance with performing preventative screenings. Commissioned by the Virginia Commonwealth University, the study reveals PHR benefits like providing alerts for needed services, generating reminders, empowers patients to better manage and monitor their care.

There is no doubt, patients using PHRs will benefit all in the delivery chain.  However, the key word is usage, and it will take a collaborative effort within the delivery chain to increase it. Efforts similar to CMS’s Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), recent publication “An Interactive Preventive Care Record..a Handbook Using Patient-Centered Personal Health Records To Promote Prevention”.  This handbook gives helpful tips to physicians.  Information such as, how to choose/market PHRs, and what I really like, suggested workflows for PHR registration, are detailed. This is a great first step for CMS, however, some incentive for Medicare and Medicaid members to use the PHR is also needed.  In takes physicians, employers, payors, organization stakeholders (HIE’s, ACO’s, etc.), working together to educate patients on PHR benefits. However, the patient role is also crucial!  Linking PHR use with member incentives, would be the main driver is showing the importance of PHRs ….especially if it hits them in the “pockets”!

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