Valuing patients’ use of My Health Record to increase adoption in rural Australia

Article title: Avoiding failure for Australia’s digital health record: the findings from a rural e-health participatory research project

Aims and method: This qualitative research aimed to examine the experiences of people aged over 40, their family members, and health promotion officers of using the My Health Record. The study involved interviews and focus groups  over a 12-month period. It focused on the ‘Personal Health Note’ within the My Health Record.

Results:  Communities and individuals needed encouragement to use the My Health Record. The My Health Record’s ‘Personal Health Note’ can help in managing health transitions. Three sub-themes emerged in the analysis:
i. Self-identity: My Health Record can facilitate person-centred, proactive and collaborative healthcare, regardless of the patient’s physical or cognitive ability;
ii. Knowledge: Patient knowledge, competence, and confidence in using My Health Record increased with use as patients found new ways to use the system; and
iii. Access: Participants viewed that My Health Record gave them more opportunities and advantages to improve services and manage their health.

Some participants found My Health Record to be useful, fulfilling, and necessary, regardless of their healthcare provider’s level of engagement with the Record. Others were disillusioned because of their healthcare providers’ lack of commitment or engagement in the Record.

Implications: Changing from an ‘opt in’ to an ‘opt out’ system of registration with the My Health Record will not necessarily engage individuals in its meaningful use. It is important to support communities and people with chronic health conditions to actively adopt and use My Health Record to manage their health transitions. This engagement needs to involve and be valued by all stakeholders, as healthcare provider engagement in the Record is important to patients.

Our onward queries: How will the lessons from rural communities translate to other communities, to enhance engagement in My Health Record nationwide? How might use of the Personal Health Note be further examined across populations to understand its meaningful use and impact on health?

Full reference of article

Almond, H. Cummings, E. Turner, P. (2016) Avoiding Failure for Australia’s Digital Health record: The Findings from a Rural E-Health Participatory Research Project. Digital Health Innovation for Consumers, Clinicians, Connectivity and Community. p.8-13.

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