AHIMA Launches PHR Project

In the wake of Microsoft’s much-publicized launch of its HealthVault health care connectivity platform (See “Microsoft Debuts HealthVault”), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is embarking on a personal health records (PHR) project of its own, with a decidedly different approach.

More campaign than product, the offering, dubbed “It’s HI Time, America!,” will try to raise public awareness about PHRs and the importance of maintaining complete health records. “This campaign is all about patient-centric health care in America and the need for many of us to really get ahead of the curve in learning to access and use their personal health information,” AHIMA chief executive Linda Kloss said last week, during the Chicago-based group’s annual convention in Philadelphia. 

It may be a tough task, as PHR adoption by patients and physicians has, by most accounts, been anemic. (The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported in November 2005 that use percentage was in the “teens or lower” even in populations that were offered PHRs, and anecdotal evidence suggests no overwhelming change since then.)

For this effort, AHIMA is targeting seniors, the chronically ill, and their caregivers, though anyone can go to www.myphr.com to set up and manage a PHR. There is no charge and the site contains no advertising.

Kloss says the site is vendor-neutral, as it is mostly informational and educational, telling the public about what basic health information they should have and how to protect the confidentiality of that data. It includes tips on gaining access to one’s medical records from providers and health plans, and explains how insurance companies use personal health information.

In fact, it runs counter to many of the hundreds of electronic PHR offerings already in the marketplace by offering printable paper forms for gathering and recording health data. The adult form is 15 pages long, and a children’s version runs five pages.

AHIMA will be working through its state and local chapters to train health information professionals to promote PHR usage. “It’s extending the work we’ve done and ratcheting up a bit,” Kloss tells Digital HealthCare & Productivity.

At the national level, Kloss says AHIMA is preparing public-service announcements to run on public TV and some cable channels late this year and again in the middle of 2008, highlighting the four elements the organization believes are essential to a complete health record: high technology, high quality, high security, and high standards.

Early next year, AHIMA will conduct a two-month media tour of major cities, including New York, Washington, Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles. Following those publicity periods, the organization will evaluate the ads’ effectiveness before deciding how to proceed.

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