Objective: The authors evaluated the effect of an electronic personal health record on the quality of medical care in a community mental health setting.
Method: A total of 170 individuals with a serious mental disorder and a comorbid medical condition treated in a community mental health center were randomly assigned to either a personal health record or usual care. One-year outcomes assessed quality of medical care, patient activation, service use, and health-related quality of life.
Results: Patients used the personal health record a mean of 42.1 times during the 1-year intervention period. In the personal health record group, the total proportion of eligible preventive services received increased from 24% at baseline to 40% at the 12-month follow-up, whereas it declined in the usual care group, from 25% to 18%. In the subset of patients with one or more cardiometabolic conditions (N=118), the total proportion of eligible services received improved by 2 percentage points in the personal health record group and declined by 11 percentage points in the usual care group, resulting in a significant difference in change between the two groups. There was an increase in the number of outpatient medical visits, which appeared to explain many of the significant differences in the quality of medical care.
Conclusions: Having a personal health record resulted in significantly improved quality of medical care and increased use of medical services among patients. Personal health records could provide a relatively low-cost scalable strategy for improving medical care for patients with comorbid medical and serious mental illnesses.