Literature Review and Environmental Scan: Evaluation of Personal Health Records Pilots for Fee-for-Service Medicare Enrollees. Chapter 5. Consumers and PHRs


What factors determine whether or not consumers access and use a PHR? At the most basic level, an individual’s usage of PHRs depends on knowing what PHRs are and how they operate. Studies show that a large percentage of the U.S. population is unaware of the existence of PHRs. A 2007 survey found that nearly two thirds (64 percent) of adults aged 18 and older were not familiar with the term ‘PHR.’[51] Another survey found that, among respondents who had never used PHRs, fifty-two percent said the reason was that they had never heard of them.[52]

While generating awareness of the existence of PHRs is certainly a critical first step, education alone is not adequate to ensure that consumers will adopt PHRs and use them on a regular basis. Consumers will not incorporate a PHR into their lives unless doing so provides them with helpful information and features, and easily enables them to get their health care needs met. This section of the review examines the value of PHRs from the consumer’s perspective. It begins by examining consumer attitudes towards PHRs, and continues by looking at how consumers can use PHRs. Finally, this section provides possible strategies for raising consumers’ awareness of PHRs, explores the concepts of PHR utility and usability, and examines consumers’ perceptions of how well existing PHRs meet their needs.

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