Marketing can increase PHR adoption

April 21, 2011

Your patients belonging to a racial or ethnic minority, and those with the lowest annual incomes, may be less likely than others to adopt personal health records (PHRs), according to the results of research, titled ?The digital divide in adoption and use of a [PHR],? published in the March 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Your patients belonging to a racial or ethnic minority, and those with the lowest annual incomes, may be less likely than others to adopt personal health records (PHRs), according to the results of research, titled “The digital divide in adoption and use of a [PHR],” published in the March 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

You may be able to increase PHR account creation by patients through aggressive marketing, however, and creation of an account seems to be a key action.

David W. Bates, MD, MSc, of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Medicine, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of a PHR system within a northeastern health system, comparing those who had activated PHR accounts with those who had not, even though their physicians offered them. The investigators also counted the number of times users logged in to their PHRs and sent messages to their doctors’ practices.

Among the 75,056 patients studied, 43% had created a PHR account since 2002.

“We found that blacks and Hispanics were half as likely to adopt the PHR compared with whites, and patients in the lowest quartile of [socioeconomic status (SES)] were 14% less likely to adopt than were those in the highest quartile,” the researchers wrote. “However, once patients had adopted the PHR, race/ethnicity was much less strongly associated with number of log-ins, and SES had no association, suggesting that the key target for bridging the digital divide may be at the adoption level.”

The number of co-morbidities, followed by race/ethnicity and insurance status, best predicted intensity of use. The researchers learned that those creating PHR accounts were more likely to have more than two co-morbidities than those who did not create PHR accounts.

Aggressive marketing increased PHR enrollment nearly three-fold.