Evaluation of the Personal Health Record Pilot for Medicare Fee-For Service Enrollees from South Carolina. Utility of PHRs.

08/01/2009

Most Valued Features and Functions.  Given the fact that the non-user group had limited exposure to MyPHRSC, we asked participants which features and functions they would find most useful in a PHR generally.  Individuals indicated that they would find it useful to track medication history, appointments, and symptoms in an online format. Participants thought it would be useful to print a list of medications, lab results, symptom diaries, surgeries and past physician interactions and hospitalization that they could present to their current providers or to new providers in the event that a health condition would necessitate such a visit. Most participants also indicated that physician access to their PHR information online would be very useful. Additionally, participants indicated that a PHR might provide relevant information in regards to medication side effects, and further information on health conditions relevant to their particular medical history.

Participants indicated that they would prefer to have the health information automatically populated in the PHR. However, most beneficiaries were willing to enter the information themselves if the PHR was user-friendly, and if the PHR provided information of interest for themselves and for their providers.

Participants reported that it would be useful to have a view of all their medical claims, and many also indicated that their three month explanation of benefit (EOB) for CMS claims was not sufficiently detailed.  Although many beneficiaries also maintain paper records, access to claims summaries online was a priority for most beneficiaries. Some beneficiaries who did sign into the PHR indicated that viewing two years of medical claims history in one place made them more aware of the number of medical encounters they experienced. 

Key Benefits Experienced or Anticipated.  The majority of beneficiaries suggested the PHR could be a useful tool for them to manage their health or healthcare.  Nonuser beneficiaries thought that the PHR would help them keep track of their medical history. The ability for all health information to be stored in one place was seen as a potential benefit of continued use of the PHR.  Participants indicated it could be useful if assisting physicians to make more informed diagnoses.

Several beneficiaries indicated that provider access to the information in the PHR, whether through a print-out or through allowing the caregiver online access to their medical history, would be useful.

Privacy and Security.  Only two beneficiaries indicated that they had concerns in regards to the privacy and security of their health information in the PHR, and most indicated that they would be willing to share the PHR with trusted sources such as a provider or caregiver.  The nonuser beneficiaries that did have privacy concerns indicated access and security issues were of the most concern but agreed that further interaction with the PHR might allay these concerns.

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