How Many AARP Members Will Use Their Free Personal Health Record?

| June 11, 2012

More than 38 million AARP members now have access to a free, online personal health record (PHR). But experts wonder if they will use it.

The number of older adults who store their health information online may increase with the introduction of a new personal health record (PHR) that AARP is offering at no cost to its 38 million members.

The new AARP Health Record program will use Microsoft Health Vault, an Internet-based online platform that enables individuals to compile and store basic personal health information from multiple sources in a single location and to share that information with health providers, caregivers and family members. 

AARP members can also use the tool to print and carry an easy-to-read wallet card with their vital health statistics. Health Record is available in both English and Spanish, according to Healthcare IT News.

A host of personal health record services

The partnership with Microsoft will connect AARP Health Record users with all the data sources that are part of HealthVault, according to InformationWeek Healthcare. These include:

  • A direct connection to Allscripts and other electronic health record systems.
  • Access to hundreds of health and wellness applications designed to monitor chronic conditions or track wellness or fitness goals. 
  • The ability to import prescription history from a HealthVault-connected pharmacy like CVS Caremark or Walgreens.
  • A direct link to testing laboratories like Labcorp or Quest, which will allow for automatic viewing of lab results. 

Chances for success

Whether the AARP Health Record will have any more success than other PHR initiatives is anyone’s guess. Nancy Fabozzi, an analyst at Frost and Sullivan, told Information Week Healthcare that the new Health Record is unlikely to succeed unless AARP does something new and innovative, like offering a rewards program that would “help seniors understand the value of the tool and how to use it to improve their lives.”

“Just offering access to the PHR as a free add-on to membership is not enough,” she says. “Similar efforts have failed, quite frankly.”

CAST Executive Director Majd Alwan agrees with Fabozzi, adding that another important key to success will be AARP’s ability to convince providers, physicians and hospitals to share patient information that can be included in individual Health Records. 

These health professionals must play a role in updating the AARP Health Record, “rather than leaving the update burden on consumers,” says Alwan.  

Broad goals

The Health Record initiative is part of a broader push at AARP to develop online tools and services specifically tailored to help people over age 50 manage their medications and chronic conditions and navigate the health system.

“This is the future of health care,” says AARP Vice President Nicole Duritz. “Our members need information that is current and convenient, so they can ask smart questions and communicate effectively with the health care system, whether they are in their doctor's office or halfway around the world on vacation.”