Major changes needed to create true PHRs

While the buzz appears to be increasing about the use of personal health records (PHRs) with some well-publicized initiatives, the acceptance and use of "true PHRs" by patients has not changed from where they were five or 10 years ago, says a new report from business technology consultant CSC.

Many barriers still exist and without major changes in behavior and dramatic increases in adoption of technology, a true PHR--and the benefits associated with it--will not be possible, the study said.

To move forward on PHRs, clinical information needs to be available electronically from a majority of providers. However, the best source of data for the PHR--the provider's electronic health record--is also the least prevalent today, the report said.

The report looked at the models commonly used: PHRs tethered to payers or employers that incorporate claims data; PHRs tethered to a hospital, physician practice or other health delivery organization that contains data from the providers' clinical or financial information systems; and untethered PHRs controlled by patients who can record or authorize the addition of health data.

However, no PHR model in use today "could accurately be described as having all the characteristics of a true PHR," according to the report. At minimum, CSC said a PHR should include: accurate and complete data from all care settings; be interactive with data flowing between consumers and authorized clinicians; be patient-controlled; permit lifetime patient access to the PHR data; and be secure and accessible only to the consumer and authorized third parties.

For more details:
- here's the CSC report (.pdf)