Low-income, ethnically diverse consumers' perspective on health information exchange and personal health records

Inform Health Soc Care. 2011 Dec;36(4):233-52. doi: 10.3109/17538157.2011.554930. Epub 2011 Aug 18.


We surveyed low-income, ethnically diverse consumers regarding their attitudes towards providers' use of electronic health information exchange (HIE) and consumer use of HIE through personal health records (PHRs). Amongst respondents (n=214), 48% had an annual household income below $15,000 and 62% spoke a language other than English at home. A majority indicated that they supported providers' use of HIE (61%). Support for providers' use of HIE was independently associated with consumer willingness to permit health care providers other than their primary care doctor to view their electronic medical record information (odds ratio (OR)=2.92, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.31-6.50) and beliefs that electronic health record use would improve quality of care (OR=2.70, 95% CI=1.18-6.18). Seventy-eight percent would potentially use PHRs. Potential PHR use was independently associated with Internet usage rates, (OR=4.46, 95% CI=1.77-11.22), belief that PHR use would improve their understanding of their own healthcare (OR=3.12, 95% CI=1.27-7.67) and comfort with sharing PHR data with their primary care doctor (OR=2.79, 95% CI=1.09-7.11). Low-income, ethnically diverse consumers affected by interoperable health information technology (IT) initiatives largely support using PHRs and HIE, provided these systems demonstrate benefits and address the privacy and security of their electronic health information. Although we found interest in PHRs comparable or higher than nationally representative populations, support for HIE was lower, and thus efforts will need to be made to engage low-income and ethnically diverse consumers to participate in interoperable health IT initiatives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Consumer Behavior*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity*
  • Female
  • Health Records, Personal*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Record Linkage*
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Poverty*
  • Young Adult