Patient Interest in Sharing Personal Health Record Information

Electronic personal health records (PHRs) allow people to share information about their health with caregivers, family and providers. PHRs most often are available through a health insurance plan, health care provider or employer. Recently PHRs have become more patient-centered allowing messaging with providers and personalized recommendations for preventive care.

Given that data security and privacy are high priorities, how comfortable are people sharing electronic health information with family members (such as adult children) or a friend or caregiver?

Researchers surveyed 18,471 users of My HealtheVet, the Veterans Affairs’ (VA) public health records system. Veterans can use the system to request medication refills, view information about medications and appointments, and receive wellness reminders and other health-related information. The average user was a 61 year old male.

Some 79 percent were interested in designating someone outside the VA to access their My HealtheVet record. More than half (62%) wanted to grant access to their spouse or partner, and a smaller percentage wanted to grant access to a child (23%), other family member (15%), unrelated caregiver (7%), or friend or neighbor (2%). One in four respondents (25%) indicated that they would grant PHR access to a health care provider outside of the VA system.