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What It Takes: Characteristics of the Ideal Personal Health Record

Americans generally want online access to their health information, but a lack of products with real value for consumers may be a primary reason for the slow adoption of personal health records, say James Kahn and colleagues in this study for Health Affairs. For example, few products have been designed to automatically obtain financial or clinical data from health providers, requiring individuals to update them manually. Development challenges have been magnified by the partial implementation of federal regulations for the secure exchange of health information, which is critical to integrating data from multiple sources. In addition, developers have failed to address the use of personal health records among populations without Internet access, or with limited computer and health literacy (typically the poor, elderly, and minorities). Kahn concludes that widespread adoption of personal health records will depend on policies that address each of these challenges and promote the development of products that integrate clinical, financial, and other health information into an electronic record that can be easily managed by the consumer. 

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J. Kahn, V. Aulakh, and A. Bosworth. “What It Takes: Characteristics of the Ideal Personal Health Record,” Health Affairs March/April 2009 28(2):369-76.