PHR-EHR integrations present challenges for physicians

Personal health records (PHRs) can be beneficial in improving interactions with patients, according to interviews with 10 family physicians conducted by researchers at the University of Western Ontario.

However, implementation and adoption of PHRs still present many challenges--such as integration with electronic health record (EHR) technology, burdens on cost and/or time, and perceived added-value to the practice of medicine--that need to be addressed before those physicians make PHRs a part of their practices, say the researchers in a recent online study published in Canadian Family Physician.

In particular, the physicians questioned whether the integration of a PHR with an EHR could alter the patient-physician relationship. If patients have "full and independent access" to EHRs, then patients then would not have the medical information transmitted to them by their physicians, the researchers said.

In the absence of this traditional framing of medical information, patients could experience "unnecessary anxiety" as they attempt to interpret the complex medical information stored in their charts, the researchers added.

However, the study did not address the fact that this may already be happening in some locations across the country, reports InformationWeek. In the U.S., those providers seeking Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for EHR adoption must be able to give patients electronic summaries of their records upon request.

When considering the implications of increased access to the full medical record, the researchers said that it was generally agreed that there would have to be an increase in patient-physician communication to explain the details of the record. This was interpreted as a mostly positive change.

For more information:
- see the Canadian Family Physician study
- view the InformationWeek article