Disadvantages and Challenges of Personal Health Records

The potential of personal health records (PHR) to improve health care delivery, patient care, documentation, and health information is enormous. However, this system’s adoption by hospitals and patients in the world is slow. Communication between a healthcare provider and their clients is critical in generating care plans. There is a significant disconnect in interactions between sick people and healthcare providers in several parts of the world (Lester, Boateng, Studeny, & Coustasse, 2016). For instance, in the United States, tiresome procedures are used by infirm to obtain official records from the hospitals, hence making it difficult for them to seek alternative opinions (Showell, 2017). A PHR is created and maintained by the patients and it is easily accessed by clinicians. This paper discusses the disadvantages and challenges of the system based on people’s perspectives.

Patients’ health data are maintained by three core functionalities in the PHR systems, which are Microsoft HealthVault, Google Health, and WorldMedCard. The three enable the sharing of documents electronically, allow clients to search for physician online, and provide insurance information respectively. Balancing simplicity and the amount of functionality of the applications is a major challenge facing users (Alyami & Song, 2016). Patients claim that that it is complex to navigate the interfaces without the help of a health IT expert because each has distinct features.

Information and extensive functionality are also a challenge facing clients, records maintained in the system are technical for clients to comprehend. In addition, patients claim that the layouts are cluttered making it difficult for one to know whether some information is linked or separated. The PHR interface has no personalization option and the functional groups have different aesthetics. For instance, Google Health has a simplistic and clean look while WorldMedCard is brightly colored. Individuals have different preferences, some consumers may be reluctant to use the system because of simple features, which look depressing or grey to them. Thus, there is a need to develop customization options for users.

In PHR systems, a client can easily access their information through patients’ portals. This interface is good because it allows an individual to see their health data and critical information is protected by the HIPAA and the hospitals (Showell, 2017). Unfortunately, it causes security concerns when an unauthorized person finds access to the system. Currently, hackers are targeting healthcare data to obtain personal information such as bank accounts and home addresses. Patients are afraid of becoming liabilities to robbery and identity theft when information leaks.

There are no federal laws at the present prohibiting individuals from selling or sharing personal health records to third parties or marketing agencies without consent from the patient. In addition, some companies utilize patients’ data for public purposes without using possible identifiers. People are not comfortable with PHR usage in public areas. This is because it is only a password protected and its privacy setting has not been established yet.

PHR system does not present the results, findings, and recommendations of services offered. For instance, the date and lab test names are provided yet the results are absent. Thus, the system does not offer an accurate and complete medical record needed for real-time practices (Alyami & Song, 2016). Additionally, its coding claims and nomenclature are difficult for consumers to understand, this implies that there is a need of transforming information into easy vocabulary that is familiar with the clients.


Alyami, M. A., & Song, Y. T. (2016). Removing barriers in using personal health record systems. In 2016 IEEE/ACIS 15th International Conference on Computer and Information Science (ICIS), Okayama, pp. 1-8. Web.

Lester, M., Boateng, S., Studeny, J., & Coustasse, A. (2016). Personal health records: Beneficial or burdensome for patients and healthcare providers? Perspectives in Health Information Management, 13(Spring), 1.

Showell, C. (2017). Barriers to the use of personal health records by patients: A structured review. Peer Journal 5, e3268.

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