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Rural Personal Health Record 

A personal health record (PHR) serves to enable patients to easily access and manage their medical records and to facilitate partnerships in care, while placing persons at the centre of their health journey. The Rural Personal Health Record (rPHR) Project aims to amplify the rural voice by putting rural communities at the core of PHR development in British Columbia (BC). The rPHR Project is working in partnership with rural communities to support the implementation of a PHR, while advocating for their development within an open and standards-based framework. This will ensure rural patients, and communities, are better positioned to participate in their own healthcare stories.

“This is a patient led project and our patient team are really starting to form, and trust is increasing. This helped the team find their confidence and start to leverage their voices to help us elevate the value of a PHR for rural patients.”
rPHR Volunteer Patient Team member


Fostering Volunteer Engagement

Dr. Bill Clifford led an Enterprise Architecture workshop where we were able to solidify our goals, objectives, and vision for the rural PHR project (rPHR), enabling our team to start identifying challenges, benefits, and opportunities of using PHRs to engage patients more fully in their healthcare.

Development of a Communications Strategy

We have collected literature and learnings from PHR projects globally to showcase the benefits of integration and use of standards-based practices. This has enabled our team to initiate a communication plan which includes leveraging our patient team to help us define key messages which will resonate with providers on how patients can be more proactive partners in their care.

This has led to an increase in engagement including a standing room only presentation at the 2023 Quality Forum, BC Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in May. This content has also been used to help providers and leadership teams understand how portals differ from a PHR and to start exploring opportunities where we can align. The approach along with the successes to date, have been evaluated and coalesced into a 2023 Evaluation Report that independently showcases the challenges, and opportunities, and successes of the rPHR project.

Using Community Feedback

The rPHR project has leveraged patient and community feedback to inform and create a statement of work for our PHR vendor, Bright Health, leading to the focused development of priority features including two-way messaging, ability to share care plans, trending labs and linking results to Medline.  When our project started in late 2020, there we only a few providers, and a handful of patients, using a PHR in rural and remote BC.  

Explore the numbers

23 Clinics adopting rPHR

23 Clinics adopting rPHR

By the end of 2023, 100 providers, representing 23 clinics and 5000 patients, have adopted a Personal Health Record, up from 12 clinics in 2022

300 Attendees

300 Attendees

300 attendees at the rPHR session at the 2023 BC Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society event in May 2023

Up to 2hrs Saved time

Up to 2hrs Saved time

Early feedback from clinic staff report time savings of up to two hours a day of by automating administrative tasks.

Partnership Work

We have a very committed volunteer patient team which has spent several years putting their time, effort, and hearts into helping us define messages and approaches. We continue to navigate the continually changing landscape of our provincial digital health strategy with our Doctors of BC, Provincial Health Services Authority and Ministry of Health partners.  We have been successful in leveraging existing relationships to propel the conversation beyond the use of static portals and gated information, toward dynamic and integrated PHRs. We have met with PHSA, MoH and DoBC leadership teams to increase their awareness of the value and benefits of a PHR and identify a few areas where we can leverage opportunities between our teams.

Making a Difference

Throughout 2023, we have begun collaborations with Indigenous health organizations to promote awareness of Indigenous health rights, aiming to address the legacy of colonialism and promote health equity. Recognizing the digital divide in rural and remote communities, including First Nations, our project advocates for health and digital equity, emphasizing the importance of addressing systemic barriers and prioritizing Indigenous voices in solution development. 

Plans for the Future

2024 will be focused on “Showcasing rPHR Value through Evidence.” In identifying and leveraging the available data, we will showcase the value of a fully integrated PHR and increase our ability to advocate with evidence based, real time, metrics. This work will kick off with an in-person workshop to help refresh our focus and inform our 2024 workplan.

Key to this will be expanding on our 2023 evaluation plan and using the results of the 2023 Enterprise Architecture workshop to better understand current PHR users. In assessing user data, we will specifically look to user satisfaction and opportunities for improvement. 2024 will see the development of new clinic and patient surveys to better understand system gaps, benefits, and what needs improvement.

With our DoBC, PHSA, MoH partnerships now focused on identifying actionable tasks that we can use to leverage and align our projects, we envision a productive year ahead. Our PHR partner, Bright Health, will continue to focus their efforts on our patient and community led identification of key functions and features.  We expect increased functionality will further drive PHR adoption and we plan to leverage these successes to help inform our communication efforts. We also plan to increase understanding and visibility of our project with presentations, white papers, conferences, and abstracts to present at conferences such as BC HIMSS (May 2024) and the Family Medicine Forum (Nov 2024). 

Team Members

Click on a team member to explore which other projects they have contributed to in the past year.

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