With all the talk about patient engagement and personal health records, there’s precious little hard data on how well PHRs work to improve health. Parkview Health, Fort Wayne, Ind., is contributing some as part of an ONC Beacon Grant for the state of Indiana: looking at how patients with cardiovascular disease use a PHR and whether it contributes to lowered blood pressure, better weight control, improved blood test results, and compliance with the care plan.

Michael Mirro, M.D., and research assistant Carly Daley will present results of their work with 200 patients, mostly in their mid-fifties or older, who used a PHR after training at their cardiologist’s office.

They followed the patients for a year, checking in twice in person and also tracking how often they logged into the PHR. There were positive trends across the board among active users of the PHR, compared with a group who received the same training but ended up not using it actively.

“I’m at a loss to remember a patient who [used the PHR and] didn’t find it helpful,” says Mirro. The session, “Enhanced Patient Engagement in Seniors with Cardiovascular Disease,” will be heldWednesday, Feb. 26, from 1-2 p.m.

The presenters will:

  • Describe the study design among senior patients who have recently undergone cardiac revascularization (stent insertion and or coronary artery bypass graft)
  • Discuss the strategies employed to assist patients with setting up a PHR, populating it with existing clinical data, and using it effectively
  • Share study results, including the impact of using a PHR on patient engagement and clinical outcomes as measured by survey results, lab values and comparison to national cardiovascular patient quality outcomes

The study was limited to patients who had Internet access, though sometimes that access was through the public library, or with the aid of a family member. At the beginning of the study, 34 percent of the participants reported that they never used the Internet; that number dropped to seven percent by the end.  
One goal of the study was to see whether using the PHR reduced anxious phone calls to the office. “Patients were definitely satisfied and more engaged in their care, and more informed about their care, and they seemed to not call the office as much,” says Mirro.

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