The Effect of Stakeholders’ Background on Perceptions of Usability and Usefulness on Personal Health Records




Guarin, Desmond Medina

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Despite rapid advances in technology, there is currently a complex, and somewhat disjointed approach to the way health information is collected, stored, and organized for both healthcare consumers and professionals. Incompatible electronic medical records from various healthcare providers add to the complexity of a system tasked with delivering a patient’s relevant medical information in a timely manner to the appropriate point of care. Personal health records (PHR) grew out of the efforts to produce an integrated electronic record to manage the multifaceted aspects of healthcare required by both healthcare consumers and professionals. PHRs are a transformative technology with the potential to alter patient-provider relationships in a way that produces a more efficient and cost effective healthcare system as a result of better patient outcomes. PHRs can potentially include a wide variety of users ranging from the lay public to clinical professionals. As such, it is important to identify potential user groups and their corresponding health information needs in order to design PHRs that maximize accessibility, usability, and clinical relevance. This study focused on laypeople who represented a wide age-range of individuals, evenly split in gender, with an above average level of computer literacy. Most of the participants had not used an electronic PHR prior to this study. However, after a hands-on session with PHR software, most participants found it to be easy to use, accompanied with the functionality they expected from such a system. Most participants were satisfied that an electronic PHR would meet their health information needs and would recommend the use of PHRs to family and friends. Anyone in the general public is a potential PHR user. However, this study found that individuals with chronic conditions and those with complex health needs had the most to gain from using a PHR as an integral part of their healthcare routine. This study also demonstrated that an individual’s health condition has a stronger influence on their perceptions about the usefulness of PHRs than does their demographic background (age, education, computer literacy). Finally, this study established that PHRs are considered by participants of the study to be useful tools in meeting their health information needs.



PHR, personal health records, support, families, electronic records, EHR, EPR, EMR, electronic health records, electronic patient records, electronic medical records