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Digital divide: Use of electronic personal health record by different population groups

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2 Author(s)
Eung-Hun Kim ; Dept. of Bioeng., Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA ; Yongmin Kim

Personal Health Record (PHR) has been increasingly recognized and actively promoted by the federal government, experts and industry as an important tool for improving healthcare in the U.S. However, the PHR use by patients and its utility have not been studied well. We have evaluated a web-based PHR in multiple locations covering diverse population groups. The study sites included a surgical specialty clinic, a medical specialty clinic, and a mental health clinic at the University of Washington, and a low-income elderly housing facility near Seattle in the state of Washington. The PHR use by the low-income elderly was limited due to poor technical skills and low physical/cognitive abilities. On the other hand, the younger and affluent populations used the web-based PHR much easily and efficiently compared to the older and low-income group. They regarded managing personal health information easy while the older group struggled. As more computer literate individuals age, the next-generation elderly are certain to be more technically skilled than the current generation. Although the reduced physical/cognitive abilities due to aging would still be a challenge, more elderly people will be able to not only use a PHR system but also use it to the full extent to get the maximum benefit.

Published in:

Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC), 2010 Annual International Conference of the IEEE

Date of Conference:

Aug. 31 2010-Sept. 4 2010