Despite the potential benefits of personal health records for patients, physicians differ widely in their past experience with PHRs and in their willingness to use them in their practices, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs.
Docs differ widely in PHR attitudes: study
The study's authors—the director of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, a doctoral student in public policy at the University of Chicago and the director of personal health technology at the New York-based Markle Foundation—surveyed 700 physicians in 2008 and 2009 about their use of PHRs. A majority, 64%, had never used one in their practices. About 42% of respondents said they would be willing to use PHRs; 24% expressed unwillingness to use the tool.
But belief in the usefulness of personal health records also varied significantly. "Even among those willing to use them," the study's authors wrote, "fewer than half of physicians believed that these tools would save time, improve their relations with patients or improve accuracy."
Female physicians, suburban physicians and those serving large Medicaid and minority populations were among the groups least willing to use personal health records. Those who were more open to using PHRs included rural physicians, minority physicians and those with experience using an electronic health-record system.
The authors concluded that financial incentives are necessary to drive adoption of personal records. They also said policymakers must address physicians' concerns about patient privacy and accuracy.
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