Mobile personal health record utilization remains low, but has potential in patient monitoring

Accessing personal health records (PHRs) through mobile health apps could improve patient monitoring for chronic diseases, but utilization of mobile PHRs (mPHRs) remains low. Findings were published April 9 in JMIR Health and uHealth.

mPHRs have the potential to increase patient engagement by offering a tool to easily view PHRs, but research into actual usage and patient-generated health data is lacking. In this study, researchers examine data on a mPHR system used in a South Korean hospital to evaluate how patient-generated health data was managed and used.

“Patient information accumulated through mPHRs and wearable devices can help build a personalized baseline,” wrote first author Yu Rang Park, PhD, and colleagues. “Patient-generated health data have the potential to change the paradigm for existing normal ranges. Information gathering through patient health platforms is expected to benefit medical care and patient health outcomes. Meanwhile, there are concerns about the construction of such patient health platforms. In particular, mHealth apps, which are easily accessible to patients and health personnel, are frequently discontinued and discarded. It is necessary to encourage long-term use to maximize the effects of the health outcomes of the health platform and fully utilize the collected information.”

The hospital logged data on patients and general users of the app from December 2010 to December 2015. Users entered data on body weight, blood pressure (BP), blood glucose levels, 10-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, metabolic syndrome risk, medication schedule, insulin and allergies.

Overall, 18,265 mPHR users were examined—3,620 users entered data on weight, 1,625 on BP, 1,374 on blood glucose, 764 on CVD, 685 on metabolic syndrome, 252 on medication, 72 on insulin and 61 on allergies. Of the 18,265 users, 3,812 had at least one measure of patent-generated health data, 175 used the data continuously but only 1 percent used it for more than four years.

In general users, use of patient-generated health data was significantly higher when compared to patients in blood glucose and BP functions. Older users and men were more likely to be continuous users of data in health management of BP, blood glucose and weight.

“Although the number of users was small, the fact that there were long-term users entering their health information means that this app was used as a suitable tool for storing and referring to health information,” concluded Park and colleagues. “To realize the potential, specific groups of continuous users must be identified, and the PGHD service must target them. Further evaluations for the clinical application of PGHD, feedback regarding user interfaces, and connections with wearable devices are needed.”