Literature Review and Environmental Scan: Evaluation of Personal Health Records Pilots for Fee-for-Service Medicare Enrollees. Executive Summary


The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), in close collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has contracted with NORC to conduct an evaluation of a pilot demonstration project to introduce Personal Health Records (PHRs) to Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries. The pilot study represents one component of a diverse set of CMS Health Information Technology (HIT) initiatives. This pilot is being implemented in the South Carolina service area by QSSI, an information technology (IT) solutions contractor.

The PHR demo titled ‘My Personal Health Record, South Carolina’ (MyPHRSC) was launched in early 2008. As part of the evaluation of the PHR demo, NORC developed this literature review and environmental scan to explore current definitions of what a PHR is, assess the usability and utility of PHRs, and to identify best practices for developing PHR standards and features.

To date, little work has been done to examine what, if any, assistance may be needed to help elderly and disabled populations use PHRs. Due to the potential of PHR technology to improve health care services, additional insight is needed to identify PHR features and functions that will encourage PHR adoption by consumers. This review is intended to contribute to the overall development of PHRs by providing a current-state, panoramic snapshot of many key aspects of the PHR field. The report will inform policy efforts to identify best practices for developing PHR features and standards that will encourage PHR adoption by consumers–especially FFS Medicare beneficiaries.

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