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Many VA Patients Would Share Personal Health Records, Study Finds

FRIDAY, Dec. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new study says many patients are willing to share their personal health records with others, a finding that surprised the researchers.

"Patients were overwhelmingly interested in allowing their caregivers and health care providers to access their online health information and help them manage their health care," said first author Dr. Donna Zulman, an instructor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

For the study, published in the Dec. 20 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers surveyed 18,000 patients enrolled in the Veterans Affairs' electronic record system called "MyHealtheVet." Nearly 80 percent said they would allow their personal health records (PHRs) to be shared with one or more people -- 62 percent with a spouse/partner, 33 percent with another family member and 25 percent with an outside health care provider, they found.

While she expected some patient interest in sharing their PHRs, the dramatic response was surprising, Zulman said in a Stanford news release.

PHRs are different from electronic medical records, which are primarily for physicians and other health care providers. PHRs contain information specifically for the patient, such as lab results, prescriptions and scheduled appointments.

PHRs are becoming increasingly common in large health care systems, but privacy and security issues limit access, Zulman said. More than 60 percent of people are concerned about the privacy of their information, according to research by the Markle Foundation.

More information

The American Health Information Management Association has more about personal health records.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Stanford University, news release, Dec. 19, 2011

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