PHR Ignite Demonstrates Exchange of Consumer Health Information

For Shannon Parker, a mom in Salem, Oregon, having access to a Personal Health Record (PHR) updated with her son’s latest health information allows her to put her son at the center of his care – no matter where he’s being treated. This means giving her an electronic tool she can use to coordinate her son’s care for brittle bone disease so she can work with her local pediatrician and a specialist all the way in Omaha, Nebraska.    

Using their PHR, Shannon shares health information with her son’s pediatrician in Oregon after he sees a specialist in Nebraska.  This allows her son to come home and get care based on the entirety of his medical record, which is part of his personal health record.  Then, if she notices any changes in her son’s health from home, she can securely send messages to her son’s specialist in Omaha, often avoiding costly and time-intensive trips out of state.

ONC-Sponsored State Collaboration Enables Personal Health Record Exchange

The exchange capabilities that Shannon uses were enhanced by the pilot implementations coordinated through the PHR Ignite project, an activity of ONC’s State Health Policy Consortium (SHPC), which was established in 2010 to give states resources needed to develop solutions to challenges preventing or impeding health information exchange across state lines. The project [PDF – 506 kb] was initiated under the SHPC to support the use of a variety of PHRs through pilot programs that provided patients access to their health information.  These patients used a non-tethered PHR, which is not connected to a provider’s electronic health record (EHR) system.  The project also provided formative research to support work in consumer engagement through the use of PHRs.

As the work of the SHPC ends this year, we can see that health information is being exchanged between patients and their providers.  Take a look at some of the examples below, watch the video, and read more in the summary reports.

Key Findings:

Consumers, including moms like Shannon, are using PHRs to share data with health care providers so they can better coordinate care for their families.  As health information technology continues to improve, PHRs will play an important role in helping other patients give providers their whole health care story – resulting in improved care and ultimately, improved health.

Next Steps

The National Institutes of Health released Funding Opportunity Announcements PA-14-180 and PA-14-181 to stimulate research utilizing Mobile Health (mHealth) tools aimed at the improvement of effective patient-provider communication, adherence to treatment and self-management of chronic diseases in underserved populations.  This will build on efforts like PHR Ignite to encourage the development, testing and comparative effectiveness analysis of interventions utilizing mHealth technologies.


  1. John Sharp says:

    Is there a link or reference to this?
    The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) External Links Disclaimer developed a training and education framework to aid implementation of consumer-mediated exchange.
    Can’t find it on the AMIA website.

  2. Chandresh Shah says:

    Such pilots are encouraging, but the reality is lagging a bit in few of the following areas.
    1. At least during MU 1, many EHR systems did not do a good job or exchanging CCD files, even if they were certified. Hope that changes with MU2 certification.
    2. Patient Portal usage is extremely low. While this is expected to go up, I am not sure about the pace. It is incumbent on practices to encourage patients. As patient portals with PHR functionality become easier to use and more integrated with EHR, providers and clinics will find it in their own best interest to encourage patients.

  3. Susan says:

    Finally someone who recognizes the benefits of a personal health record! I’m so grateful to see that PHR’s are universally helping people. My patients use onpatient (powered by drchrono), and it’s amazing to see them play an active role in their health care. They can monitor their hypertension, hypoglycemia and more. I strongly encourage patients to play an active role in their healthcare by actively using a personal health record. If you’re a patient and reading this, ask your provider about creating/signing up for a PHR now!

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