AHRQ issues personal health record guide to promote preventive care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has published a guide to help providers implement interactive personal health records (IPHRs) with their electronic health records to increase the amount of preventive care patients receive.

The guide provides clinicians with practical steps to follow when deploying IPHRs as components of EHRs. According to the guide, IPHRs automatically transfer patient clinical information to and from the EHR, send prevention summary documents from the EHR to the IPHR, enable the IPHR to "request" data from the EHR and can allow direct access to EHR data.

AHRQ acknowledges in the guide that there are numerous ways to encourage patients to obtain preventive care, but says that its studies indicate that patients will use an IPHR, which will increase the delivery of recommended preventive services.

The agency does warn, however, that the IPHR is most effective when the data in an EHR is reliable. "Evaluating and monitoring EHR data quality is an essential step to make sure that the information patients view in the IPHR is correct," the guide's authors say. "Showing patients incomplete or inaccurate medical information reflects poorly on a practice and is not good quality care."

AHRQ previously has advocated that EHRs can improve the quality of care. It also recently issued a guide to help providers adopt EHRs and deal with their unintended consequences.

Other related projects currently funded by AHRQ include guidance on using EHRs to handle hypertension and using PHRs to improve elder medication use. A spending bill for 2013 released by the GOP this week could put those project in jeopardy, however. The bill cuts funding to the AHRQ.

To learn more:
- here's the guide

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