Objective: Personal Health Records (PHRs) tethered to an Electronic Health Record (EHR) offer patients unprecedented access to their personal health information. At the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the My HealtheVet Pilot Program was an early PHR prototype enabling patients to import 18 types of information, including clinical notes and laboratory test results, from the VA EHR into a secure PHR portal. The goal of this study was to explore Veteran perceptions about this access to their medical records, including perceived value and effect on satisfaction, self-care, and communication.
Methods: Patients enrolled in the pilot program were invited to participate in a web-based survey.
Results: Among 688 Veteran respondents, there was a high degree of satisfaction with the pilot program, with 84% agreeing that the information and services were helpful. The most highly ranked feature was access to personal health information from the VA EHR. The majority of respondents (72%) indicated that the pilot Web site made it easy for them to locate relevant information. Most participants (66%) agreed that the pilot program helped improve their care, with 90% indicating that they would recommend it to another Veteran.
Conclusions: Veterans' primary motivation for use of the pilot Web site was the ability to access their own personal health information from the EHR. With patients viewing such access as beneficial to their health and care, PHRs with access to EHR data are positioned to improve health care quality. Making additional information accessible to patients is crucial to meet their needs and preferences.