Health literacy is an essential determinant of health outcomes among many people. It is the level to which a person can access, comprehend, and utilize services and information to inform health-related actions and decisions for themselves and others (Baraie et al., 2020). Many factors influence health literacy, including age, level of education, and income. Moreover, the extent to which a person is literate health-wise mostly impacts their health outcomes. Thus, the ability of a patient to accept a personal health record (PHR) is significantly affected by their health literacy.
The desire to adopt a PHR by the patients depends on their literacy. Noblin et al. (2012) conducted a study at a Florida-based medical facility and discovered that patients still have a broad acceptance of PHR, although they have a relatively low level of education. This lifelong electronic health information (HI) resource, only maintained by the patient, enables one to make health decisions. This system allows the physician and the patient to connect and be more engaged in health care (Noblin et al., 2012). Thus, the patient and physician should have an effective communication in decision-making since it is an essential component of the self-management database in the health sector.
However, it is essential to note that using this PHR is not all about technology but how it is utilized to inform health decisions. It has three main stages: capturing and sharing data, improving care processes, and enhancing health outcomes. The first stage can help understand health literacy better, while the second one reinforces care processes, and the third focuses on improving health outcomes. According to Noblin et al. (2012), health literacy is very relevant to health consequences and can help lower the disparities usually experienced in the sector. Electronic health records (EHRs) have now been adopted by many physicians, who use them to reach financial subsidiaries under Medicaid and Medicare. As this happens, the opportunity to offer PHRs to the patients will be prevalent.
Moreover, creating a sense of harmony between patients and health practitioners is highly dependent on the former’s health literacy. This is true particularly when thinking of the 4 E’s: enable, educate, engage, and empower (Noblin et al., 2012). Since patients are searching for information they can comprehend, apply, and act upon, it is necessary to consider the strategies to use, and ignoring the role of technology in this endeavor is not a good idea. There are so many challenges in accessing technology, and one of them is that it could bring additional barriers and maximize the disparities. Since this is a significant concern, the use of PHR needs to aim to avoid the potential unintended consequences of evolutions of health information technology (Baraie et al., 2020). However, that should never hamper the access to good health since these barriers can easily be overcome.
In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when thinking about health information technology, specifically PHR, and how it can help tackle the problem of health illiteracy. Comprehensive evaluations are required to assess health technologies’ rollout’s fidelity and impact on promoting this issue. Since PHRs are being explored for the first time, it is necessary to research the best practices concerning their utilization to ensure patients make more informed health decisions. As the number of people increases, so do health disparities across populations. The new advancement introduced in the industry, PHR, will help health providers to enable their clients to improve their health literacy and make better choices regarding their health.
Baraie, B., Pashaei, T., Kakemam, E., & Mahmoodi, H. (2020). Health literacy and its predictors among urban and rural adults in Bijar County. Journal of Education and Health promotion, 9, 181.
Noblin, A. M., Wan, T. T. H., & Fottler, M. (2012). The impact of health literacy on a patient’s decision to adopt a personal health record. Perspectives in Health Information Management, 9, 1−13.