PHRs provide the most utility for beneficiaries when they include features and functions that facilitate patient-provider communication, and provide a means for coordinating care across providers. The most used and most liked functions in MyPHRSC included printing the Wallet Card, as beneficiaries saw this as a mechanism to share information in an emergency situation on travel, and the Health Record Summary, which provided the most comprehensive information about beneficiaries’ health and care over a 2 year period.
Inclusion of other functions such as a medication history, laboratory test results, clinical decision support, enhanced search, context sensitive help and secure messaging with providers, will all enhance PHR utility for beneficiaries. Additionally, beneficiaries require tools to manage chronic illness, and functions such as tracking for conditions, reminders for conditions tracking, medications and appointments related to conditions, and graphing of vitals and lab results will all support beneficiary management of care. User observations and discussion groups with beneficiaries also revealed that they have different desires and needs for PHRs. Thus, in order to effectively address the different needs, it might be necessary to offer a PHR which consists of separate modules rather than implementing a one-size-fits-all system.
E-mail messages and reminders that coincide with the addition of new information to MyPHRSC would also be helpful. These reminders can be instrumental in encouraging repeated use of MyPHRSC as they could be generated if a specified time interval has passed without a beneficiary logging in. Many beneficiaries also reported having supplemental insurance and stated that it would be of great benefit to be able to view health information from multiple payor and provider sources in the PHR rather than merely those originating from the Medicare system.