Personal Health Records Could Become Standard by 2020

With a shift towards digital technology, people will be able to better access and manage their medical records.

A majority of people are familiar with their medical records, which have been primarily written documents and charts. With the world moving away from printed materials, the medical field seeks to do so as well.

Most physicians and healthcare professionals already have electronic records in which they can make notes and change any data.

Many people in the United States wish to have access to their electronic records, but there are concerns as to whether or not average people can understand the information contained in these records.

A study published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research showed personal health records (PHRs) have the opportunity to bring web-based access to patients and will likely exceed goals set by the US Institute of Medicine by 2020.

This study examined data collected by the Health Information National Trends Survey in the years 2008, 2011, and 2013.

According to the findings, approximately 8 million respondents in 2008 were storing their medical data, as well as communicating with a medical provider on the internet. In 2013, the number of respondents jumped to 31 million.

It is clear that the number of subjects using the main functions of PHRs are growing rapidly.

However, there are limitations. Researchers explain that because the surveys were not phrased to explicitly talk about PHRs, actual answers may vary.

Also, researchers note that some PHR users may be managing healthcare for other family members. For example, 1 parent may manage the healthcare records of multiple children and a spouse.

In that case, the numbers would not be accurate.

Researchers also hypothesize that if new technology for PHRs comes out, it will likely be a different product rather than an updated version that patients are accustomed to. This occurrence may also change their findings.

Researchers believe that once companies make more sophisticated PHR technology more widely available to consumers, the numbers will increase again.

Due to the findings, researchers believe that people are not what is keeping PHRs from becoming widespread, but the lack of technology being provided. People are willing to take part in such technology, but do not have the opportunity to do so, the study concluded.