RCP launches patient-led report on insights into use of personal health records

Today the RCP launches Personal health record (PHR) - User insights, a report aimed at helping healthcare professionals, providers and commissioners better understand how the public use personal health records.

Commissioned by NHS England, and led by the Health Informatics Unit (HIU) at the RCP, the report creatively illustrates patient experiences and needs, using Integrated Patient Storytelling (IPS), following several individuals through their journey using a personal health record.

With the recent explosion in digital personal health technology, detailed and valuable information is now easily accessible to not only the healthcare sector but also to individuals themselves, opening up a huge range of possibilities for the ways in which health can be monitored and care can be provided.

PHRs often help people to take ownership of improving their own health, giving them easier and more convenient access to their own information.

Real-life experiences were captured, through a series of interviews and focus groups, to provide powerful insights into how PHRs are used by people from a variety of backgrounds with a wide range of different health conditions.

Personal health record (PHR) – User insights demonstrates that PHRs often help people to take ownership of improving their own health, giving them easier and more convenient access to their own information, as well as being able to contribute directly to their own records. This was shown to help reduce anxiety associated with not feeling fully informed in decisions or processes relating to a person’s treatment as well as improving communication with care professionals. By empowering individuals in this way, emphasis is placed on putting the person at the centre of their own care, facilitating better outcomes and overall health management.

The greatest impact was seen where patients presented with a long term condition. However, some of the main barriers included a lack of understanding of PHRs and how they are used, presentation of data in a way that is confusing or not presented in an accessible way for non-healthcare professionals and so concerned with confidentiality and security of their personal data stored on PHRs.

[The report] highlights and evidences the clear value that PHRs can have on improving patient experience.

Many of the reported negative experiences related to poor design of PHRs and a lack of support in using the tools. A key recommendation suggests, where a lack of digital literacy is often a barrier, support should be provided to upskill patients and improve their confidence and competency in using PHRs.

Overall this collection of user insights and its proceeding analysis highlights and evidences the clear value that PHRs can have on improving patient experience, and how these tools can empower individuals to be fully engaged and involved in decisions about their own care and treatment.

Find out more

To hear more about how the RCP is working to place patients at the centre of care, and the work of the Health Informatics Unit to support innovation in health informatics and digital integration in healthcare, follow @RCPLondon on Twitter or contact informatics@rcplondon.ac.uk.