A qualitative study of Australians' opinions about personally controlled electronic health records

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2012;178:105-10.


Background: A personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) system is being implemented in Australia. Every Australian that wants a PCEHR will be able to opt-in from July 2012.

Aim: To explore the opinions of Australian consumers and healthcare providers about the PCEHR.

Methods: In this qualitative study, consumers and healthcare providers were interviewed using a semi-structured interview guide.

Results: Perceived benefits identified by participants regarding the PCEHR included instant access to clinical information, and safer and more efficient healthcare delivery. The risk of unauthorised access and breaches of privacy were some of the perceived drawbacks. Although consumers seemed unwilling to opt-in to have a PCEHR, the vast majority of healthcare providers were positive towards this development and predicted better and safer healthcare as a result.

Conclusions: Consumers and healthcare providers appeared uniformed about the imminent PCEHR. The wide-spread unwillingness among participants to opt-in to have a PCEHR could potentially jeopardise successful implementation and uptake of this system. A well-designed system without security glitches and with individualised information from trusted healthcare providers regarding the benefits of having a PCEHR appears critical in engaging consumer opt-in.

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Computers*
  • Australia
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient Participation*