Before consumers accept and use PHRs on a widespread basis, they must be made aware of their availability and advantages, and they must be taught how to use. Several local education and marketing campaigns have sought to encourage community residents who have chronic health conditions and/ or other health needs to adopt PHR usage. While these efforts have not been empirically evaluated, the initial lessons learned may offer insight into how similar strategies could be applied to larger-scale initiatives to inform consumers about PHRs.
Whatcom County has presented its PHR as a community resource, which it promotes through channels such as support groups for chronically ill persons; mailings to hospitals, pharmacies, emergency service providers; and outreach to other existing community programs (e.g., senior, parish and nursing programs). The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has worked to obtain buy-in for its PHR, My HealtheVet, from the local health care facilities, American Foreign Legion clubs, and VHA health fairs. VHA has found that physicians are enthusiastic and effective in promoting PHR use to their patients with clinical and support staff being supplied with printed educational materials for patient distribution. VHA pharmacy staff members have also been champions of My HealtheVet and their mail order prescription division is placing information about My HealtheVet on each patient’s prescription bottles.
State, regional, and national efforts to market PHRs help to raise awareness of their value. Social marketing campaigns could be used to increase consumers’ awareness of the advantages of taking an active role in their health care. These efforts could include information on the advantages of PHRs, their availability, and how they work. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has initiated a state-level campaign, called the Community Education Campaign for PHRs, which enlists members to coordinate community education efforts or make community presentations. Many of its members have enlisted to volunteer.