Evaluation of the Personal Health Record Pilot for Medicare Fee-For Service Enrollees from South Carolina. Appendix 6. discussion Guide for Nonusers


Personal Health Record (PHR) Pilot for
Medicare FFS Beneficiaries (Non-users)




Purpose: To evaluate the usability and utility of Personal Health Records, specifically My Personal Health Record South Carolina (MyPHRSC) and to gain insight into issues pertaining to use of PHRs by Medicare beneficiaries.

Project Summary: The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) has contracted with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) to conduct a study to identify PHR features that are most valued by end-users, as well as best practices in designing PHRs. 

I.  Welcome & Introduction

Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me.  My name is [INTERVIEWER NAME], and I work for the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), a national, not-for-profit research organization affiliated with the University of Chicago.  The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has requested that we gather your opinions on personal health records.  We do not work for CMS or for ASPE and are an independent non-profit organization


We are contacting you because you have Medicare health coverage in South Carolina and signed up through Medicare to use My Personal Health Record South Carolina—also known as MyPHRSC.  It is a secure and confidential electronic Personal Health Record.  It lets you get information on all of you Medicare bills over the past 24 months.  We are talking to several people who signed up about their experiences.  We recognize that some people are logging in weekly and some have only logged in once.


Before we start, I would like to take a second to assure you:

There is no right or wrong answer to the questions I will ask.  We are interested in hearing your thoughts, whether they are positive or negative. 

I do not work for South Carolina Medicare or the company that created MyPHRSC, so you will not upset me if you express negative opinions.

We will use your comments, but no names or identifying information, in our report.  All info you share is confidential

Remember, your participation is voluntary, and you may stop the discussions at any time. 


Our conversation today should take about 30 minutes; is this still acceptable for you?


Recently Medicare started a program in South Carolina to give people free access to a safe and secure electronic personal health record called My Personal Health Record, South Carolina (MyPHRSC).  A Personal Health Record can be many things.  Generally, a personal health record is considered a collection of information about your health or health care services (e.g., provider visits, hospital visits, medical conditions, and your own notes). Personal Health Records may be in paper format (e.g., records you keep at home) or in an electronic format (e.g., records stored on the computer or on the internet).  It is designed to help you manage and understand your health information and share it with other people if you would like.

1.    What healthcare issues are most important for you? 

  • Reducing healthcare costs
  • Managing my chronic conditions
  • Access to help or care when I need it
  • Maintaining my healthcare regimen more effectively (taking medications on time, etc)
  • Understanding my conditions
  • Any other issues?

2.    What kinds of things do you typically do to manage your own healthcare?

  • Are you involved in services that promote patient education, provide you with email updates, allow you to manage your appointments, or encourage your participation in preventive services--including mammogram screenings?
  • Do you keep a diary for pain, other symptoms, and side effects?  Do you use longitudinal health tracking tools such as charts, graphs for BP, BS? Do you monitor your prescriptions for potential drug interactions, what about your prescription refills, do you keep track of those?  Do you track your claims information?
  • Do you generally read your explanation of benefits? )
  • Would you consider using a PHR for any of these things?  Why or why not?

3.    Overall, how comfortable are you using the internet or going online?

  • Can do it on my own and do routinely
  • Can do it on my own but do it only occasionally
  • Need help from my friends or family
  • I have never been “online”

4.    What kinds of things do you typically use the internet to do?

  • Banking
  • Shopping
  • Browsing for information: e.g., news, sports, weather
  • Find information about my health or health care

5.    How did you find out about MyPHRSC?


  • Workshops
  • Health fairs
  • Information received in the mail
  • The news
  • Other venues?

6.    Did you or someone else sign you up for the program?

  • Yes, I signed myself up for it
  • Yes, someone else signed me up for it

7.    When you decided to sign up for MyPHRSC, what did you hope to get out of using it?

  • To manage my health information
  • To view my illnesses and conditions
  • To view my health care visits or procedures and immunizations
  • To learn more about health related information that is important to me 
  • To keep track of my prescriptions and over-the counter medications
  • To keep track of my health care appointments
  • To share information with my family members, caregiver(s) or health care providers

8.    Since signing up for MyPHRSC you have not accessed the PHR. What are your reasons for not accessing the PHR?

9.    Would you be interested in using a personal health record like MyPHRSC on a regular basis?  Why or why not?

  • Do not need to use it
  • Do not have regular computer access or know how to use one
  • Yes, because it could help me to manage my medications, etc
  • It is too hard to use
  • I will forget

10. If you could design a personal health record and include the features and services you want to track your health, what kinds of things would you include?  (services such as patient education, emailing, appointments, preventive services mammogram screenings, patient diaries for pain, symptoms, side effects, longitudinal health tracking tools such as charts, graphs for BP, BS, drug interactions checking, claims information such as an explanation of benefits, or Rx refills; features such as…get examples from HealthTrio). Of your suggestions, which do you think would be most useful for Medicare beneficiaries?



Thank you very much for your time today.



View full report


"report.pdf" (pdf, 1.89Mb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®