Usability and perceived usefulness of Personal Health Records for preventive health care: a case study focusing on patients' and primary care providers' perspectives

Department of Information Systems, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA. Electronic address: .
Applied ergonomics (Impact Factor: 2.02). 10/2013; 45(3). DOI: 10.1016/j.apergo.2013.09.005
Source: PubMed


Personal Health Records (PHR) are electronic applications for individuals to access, manage and share their health information in a secure environment. The goal of this study was to evaluate the usefulness and usability of a Web-based PHR technology aimed at improving preventive care, from both the patients' and primary care providers' perspectives. We conducted a multi-method descriptive study that included direct observations, concurrent think-aloud, surveys, interviews and focus groups in a suburban primary care clinic. Patients found the tailored health recommendations useful and the PHR easy to understand and use. They also reported asking useful health-related questions to their physicians because of using the system. Generally, care providers were interested in using the system due to its useful content and impact on patient activation. Future successful systems should be better integrated with hospital records; put more emphasis on system security; and offer more tailored health information based on comprehensive health databases.

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    ABSTRACT: Personal health records (PHRs), in contrast to electronic health records (EHRs) or electronic medical records (EMRs), are health records in which data are accessible to patients and not just providers. In recent years, many systems have enabled PHRs to be available in a mobile format. Mobile PHRs (mPHRs) allow patients to access health information via the Internet or telecommunication devices, such as mobile phones, personal digital assistants, and tablet computers. mPHRs have the potential to help patients and providers identify medical conditions and prescriptions from numerous locations, which may minimize medical errors and identify improvements to health behaviors during emergencies, when patients present to a new provider, or EHRs are not accessible. Despite their benefits, numerous challenges inhibit the adoption and further development of mPHRs, including integration into overall health technology infrastructure and legal and security concerns. This paper identifies the benefits of mPHRs during emergencies and the remaining challenges impeding full adoption and use, and provides recommendations to federal agencies to enhance support and use of mPHRs.
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, a flexible scheme for handling personal health records (PHRs) in emergency situations has been proposed. Under such a scheme, each PHR is classified as secure, restricted, or exclusive information. Secure PHRs are immediately available to the emergency response unit (ERU) staff. Restricted PHRs require additional approvals from a set of authorised people who are pre-selected by the PHR owner. Exclusive PHRs are only accessible by the owner. Previous work assumed that all ERU staff is trustworthy. To be practical, this work eliminates such an assumption. Several mechanisms are applied to ensure the usability and security of the newly proposed scheme. For example, an access-request authentication mechanism is applied to enhance the trustworthiness of the requests that are invoked by the ERU staff. Moreover, a transaction auditing mechanism is applied to provide a non-repudiation feature. This paper discusses the usability and security issues of the proposed scheme in practice and suggests how to classify a PHR considering the above-mentioned privacy levels.
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