Patients who access health information through personal health records (PHRs) report that they know more about their health, ask more questions, and take better care of themselves than when data is accessed only by paper records, according to a study released by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF, Oakland).
According to the survey, one in 14 Americans has used a PHR, which is double the number of users from a year earlier, and one in three respondents say they used the PHR to take a specific action to improve their health. Research shows that the benefits of PHR use are most valued in patients with multiple chronic conditions, less education, and lower incomes — populations that have been difficult for providers to engage.
Privacy, however, is still somewhat of a barrier. Many of those surveyed expressed concern that their health information could be used by employers, health insurance plans, or others, and one third said they would consider hiding some information from their provider because of that fear. Still, two-thirds of those surveyed said privacy concerns should not stand in the way of learning how technology can help improve health care.
The survey of 1,849 people was conducted by Lake Research Partners between December 18, 2009 and January 15, 2010. To view the full survey findings, visit www.chcf.org.