CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Gertrude W Abramson

Committee Member

Marilyn Olander

Committee Member

Helen St. Aubin


Disease Management, Electronic Health Record, Electronic Medical Record, Heart Failure, Personal Health Record


Personal Health Records (PHRs) allow patients to access and in some cases manage their own health records. Their potential benefits include access to health information, enhanced asynchronous communication between patients and clinicians, and convenience of online appointment scheduling and prescription refills. Potential barriers to PHR use include lack of computer and internet access, poor computer or health literacy, security concerns, and provider disengagement. PHRs may help those living in rural areas and those with chronic conditions such as heart failure, monitor and manage their disease, communicate with their health care team and adhere to clinical recommendations. To provide some much needed actual research, a descriptive mixed methods study of the usability, usefulness, and disease management potential of PHRs for rural heart failure patients was conducted. Fifteen participants were enrolled.

Usability issues fell into three categories: screen layout; applying consistent, standard formatting; and providing concise, clear instructions. Participants used PHR features that were more convenient than other methods or that had some additional benefit to them. There was no difference between rural and urban participants. A heart failure nurse promoted recording daily heart failure symptoms in the PHR. Most participants did so at least once, but many found it cumbersome. Reasons for recording included the comfort of having clinical staff monitor the data. Participants who were stable did not find recording as useful as did those who were newly diagnosed or unstable. Participants used asynchronous communication to send messages to the heart failure nurse that they would not otherwise have communicated.

The study expands the knowledge of PHR use by addressing useful functionality and disease management tools among rural patients with heart failure. The patients were able to complete tasks they found useful. The increased communication and disease management tools were useful to some.

  Link to NovaCat