Sending health maintenance reminders to personal health records helps patients adhere to some screenings

Research Activities, October 2012, No. 386

More and more patients are choosing personal health records (PHRs) to be proactive about their health. With their linkages to electronic health records, these systems can notify patients of various preventive screenings, such as mammograms and flu shots. A new study finds that patients with access to a PHR are more likely to obtain a mammogram and a flu shot compared to those not using a PHR. However, the impact of a PHR on other screenings is minimal.

The study involved 11 primary care practices where 21,533 patients with access to a PHR were invited to participate. Of these, 3,979 elected to enroll in the study. Those in the intervention arm received various health maintenance reminders through an eJournal, an interactive electronic communication and information-sharing tool. The eJournal allowed them to review and update these reminders as well as family history information. Those patients assigned to the control arm had access to an eJournal where they could input and review information about their medications, allergies, and diabetes management, but not receive these reminders.

Patients in the intervention arm who received health maintenance reminders were more likely to receive mammograms (48.6 percent) compared to patients in the control arm (29.5 percent) and more likely to receive flu shots (22 percent vs. 14 percent). However, there were no significant differences in obtaining Pap smears between the two groups. More research is needed to determine which screenings improve with PHR systems as well as how to encourage more patients to use a PHR. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13660).

See "Randomized controlled trial of health maintenance reminders provided directly to patients through an electronic PHR," by Adam Wright, Ph.D., Eric C. Poon, M.D., M.P.H., Jonathan Wald, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the Journal of General Internal Medicine27(1), pp. 85-92, 2012.

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Current as of October 2012
Internet Citation: Sending health maintenance reminders to personal health records helps patients adhere to some screenings: Research Activities, October 2012, No. 386. October 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/oct12/1012RA15.html