Objectives: The use of personal health records (PHRs) can be beneficial for healthcare management because it can facilitate the accumulation and administration of lifelong healthcare information, which can aid the clinical process. However, for PHRs to be used appropriately while ensuring the protection of patient privacy, patients must be able to decide how their clinical information will be used. Therefore, it is important to thoroughly evaluate the situation and needs of the public.
Methods: In this study, an online survey was conducted in Japan in July 2012. The survey was composed of 35 questions on the status of the respondent, how individuals want their clinical information to be handled and opinions towards PHR. A total of 3,090 individuals ≥ 20 years of age living in Japan responded to the survey.
Results: Results indicate that most of the respondents agreed that PHR service was a necessity. However, concerns regarding privacy issues were raised by most participants. The respondents also preferred that handling of their PHRs be done by public institutions. Moreover, there was a tendency for the respondents to prefer the primary use of their PHRs for personal healthcare purposes and gave less importance to secondary PHR use (i.e., research/ development and public health).
Conclusion: On the basis of both cost burden and clinical information privacy, Japanese respondents preferred that PHRs be appropriately managed by a public institution. A similar trend has been observed in the United States. With consideration of also the differences in systems and legislation, further studies are needed to identify the needs of individuals to establish an adequate PHR service.