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Telemed J E Health. 2010 Mar;16(2):167-76. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2009.0063.

Will electronic personal health records benefit providers and patients in rural America?

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  • 1Memorial Medical Center, Johnstown, Pennsylvania 15905, USA. jhargrea@conemaugh.org

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The objective of this study was to educate stakeholders (e.g., providers, patients, insurers, government) in the healthcare industry about electronic personal health records (PHRs) and their potential application in rural America.

METHODS:

Extensive research was performed on PHRs through standard literature search, product demonstrations, educational webinars, and fact finding via news releases.

RESULTS:

Various stakeholders are eager to transform the healthcare industry into the digital age like other industries (i.e., banking, retail). Despite low adoption of PHRs in 2008 (2.7% of U.S. adults), patients are interested in secure messaging and eVisits with their physicians, online appointment scheduling and reminders, and online access to their laboratory and radiology results. Federal agencies (e.g., Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs [VA]), popular information technology (IT) vendors (e.g., Google, Microsoft), and large insurers (e.g., Aetna) have energized the industry through pilot programs and new product announcements. It remains to be seen if barriers to adoption, including privacy concerns, lack of interoperability standards and funding, and provider resistance, can be overcome to enable PHRs to become a critical tool in the creation of a more efficient and less costly U.S. healthcare industry.

CONCLUSIONS:

Electronic PHRs hold great promise to enhance access and improve the quality of care provided to patients in rural America. Government, vendors, and insurers should create incentives for providers and patients to implement PHRs. Likewise, patients need to become more aware of PHRs and their ability to improve health outcomes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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