Rural and male physicians most willing to use PHRs

March 10, 2011

Do you practice in a rural area, or are you a male physician? If either or both of these descriptions apply you to, you belong to a group(s) more willing to use electronic personal health records (PHRs) compared with your urban, suburban, and female colleagues, according to research published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Do you practice in a rural area, or are you a male physician? If either or both of these descriptions apply you to, you belong to a group(s) more willing to use electronic personal health records (PHRs) compared with your urban, suburban, and female colleagues, according to research published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Matthew K. Wynia, director of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association; Gretchen Williams Torres, a doctoral student in public policy at the University of Chicago; and Josh Lemieux, director of personal health technology at the Markle Foundation conducted a nationwide survey of physicians in 2008-2009. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they never had used a patient’s electronic PHR, but 42% said they would be willing to try using them.

Doctors in rural practices “expressed much more willingness” to use PHRs compared with their colleagues practicing in urban or suburban settings, according to the researchers. Also, 46% male physicians said they would be willing to use PHRs, whereas 34% of female doctors expressed such a willingness, they found.

“Physicians broadly have concerns about the impact on patients’ privacy, the accuracy of underlying data, their potential liability for tracking all of the information that might be entered into a [PHR], and the lack of payment to clinicians for using or reviewing these patient records,” the authors write.