Personal Health Records Could Spur Patients To Obtain Preventive Care

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Patients who use an interactive personal health record tool are more likely to obtain certain preventive services than patients without access to the PHR tool, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, Reuters reports (Norton, Reuters, 7/12).

Study Details

For the study, researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Cancer Prevention and Control Program conducted a 16-month clinical trial involving 4,500 patients at eight primary care practices (Hall, FierceHealthIT, 7/11). Patients were randomly assigned to a control group that received standard care or an intervention group that had access to an interactive PHR.


The interactive PHR pulled information from the patient’s electronic health record to generate a customized list of recommended preventive services, such as cancer screenings and immunizations.


The PHR tool also provided patients with links to educational materials about the preventive services.


Study Findings

Researchers found that after 16 months:
25% of patients who used the interactive PHRs were up-to-date on their preventive care, up from less than 14% when the study began; and

Less than 13% of patients who received standard care were up-to-date on their preventive care, up from 11% when the study began.


Low Usage Rates for Interactive PHR


Researchers noted that the study was limited by the fact that only 17% of the 2,250 patients who had access to an interactive PHR chose to use the tool.


Lead researcher Alex Krist said the study’s design might have contributed to the low usage of the PHR tool. Krist noted that patients were invited by mail to create an interactive PHR and that promoting the PHR tool in a doctor’s office might have spurred greater participation (Reuters, 7/12).






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