Healthcare News & Insights

Personal health records improve preventive care

Using an electronic health record system that integrates with patients’ personal health records can help patients stay on top of their preventive care. 

In additional to electronic health records (EHRs) for doctors and hospitals, health IT tools can also give patients access to a personal health health record (PHR). PHRs are meant to be a complete summary of a patient’s health information that can be accessed online. They often contain information about family and individual medical history, allergies, chronic conditions, vaccinations and other details.

One benefit of providing access to those health summaries is that it can help remind patients about steps they need to take to improve their own health.

Patients who used an interactive PHR were twice as likely to stay up-to-date on cancer screenings, according to a recent study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University.

The 4,500 patients studied were split into two groups — patients in one group were given access to a PHR linked to their EHRs, and the others were not.

The PHRs issued personal recommendations to patients based on information from their EHRs and an initial wellness screening. They also sent reminders to patients when they were due for recommended screenings and other visits.

After 16 months, 25% of the PHR users were up to date on all recommended screenings and services. That’s not as high a number as doctors would most likely want to see, but it was double the number of non-PHR users who were up to date.

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