Understanding the support needs of patients accessing test results online. PHRs offer great promise, but support issues must be addressed to ensure appropriate access.
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Personal health records (PHR) offer great promise in transforming the patient experience, but a number of support issues must be addressed to ensure that patients have appropriate access to their health information. Two hundred and fifty breast cancer patients registered to use a portal providing access to personal health information over a six-week period. All support calls were directed to a research triage centre and redirected either to technical, clinical or psychosocial support. Log files were coded and analyzed. Two hundred and thirty-nine support contacts were logged by 122 participants. The majority was referred to technical support; the remaining contacts were directed to clinical support. Seven categories of technical support were identified: registration problems, site access, login issues, password reset, activation key issues, result access and other difficulties. In accessing their test results, patients required support in a number of technical domains, but educational and psychosocial support were not heavily utilized.
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