Seventeen months after launching a pilot project to test whether Medicare beneficiaries will use personal health records, HHS is going back to Utah and Arizona to ask PHR users what they think about the systems.
HHS to survey Medicare patients on PHR use
HHS last week published official notice in the Federal Register of its intent to conduct an evaluation this fall of the pilot program, including a survey of 500 Medicare beneficiaries to assess user satisfaction, as well as barriers or facilitators of PHR use.
Mathematica Policy Research has been hired to conduct the evaluation and survey.
According to the HHS statement of purpose in its notice, “Current PHR business models represent broad and varied uses, from disease management to health promotion, with sponsors consisting of commercial vendors, heath plans, employers and healthcare providers. We know very little about why consumers, and specifically Medicare beneficiaries, elect to use PHRs and what functionality they want from a PHR.
“Understanding these needs will be critical if HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are to pursue PHRs as a tool to empower consumers to manage their health and have the capability to link to their provider's EHR,” according to the HHS statement.
In January 2009, the CMS launched what it called the Medicare Personal Health Record Choice Pilot program in Utah and Arizona, the first-of-a-kind pilot program to offer a choice of PHRs to Medicare fee-for-service patients. Medicare beneficiaries could choose a PHR from any one of four vendors: Google Health, HealthTrio, NoMoreClipboard.com and PassportMD.
According to a CMS spokesman, 1,362 beneficiaries had signed up for PHRs by the end of March 2010.
According to the recently released results of a survey conducted in December and January by the not-for-profit California HealthCare Foundation, just 7% of Americans used a PHR in 2009, up from 2.7% in 2008.
In April, HHS announced it was commissioning a study of public attitudes about privacy and security in health information exchange. RTI International will conduct that survey. A final report is expected Oct. 1.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.