Personal Health Record Systems as Boundary Objects

George, Joey
Kohnke, Emily
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Personal health record systems are widely available and regarded as a key element in the push for electronic health records and the meaningful use of technology in medicine. However, the adoption and use of these systems has been much lower than anticipated. While research has investigated the reasons for this lack of adoption, we have no satisfactory answers. As such, we undertook a qualitative research study in a medical clinic setting to investigate them. We focused on identifying how the unique user groups who interacted with these personal health record systems viewed their use and impact. We specifically examined three different perspectives on these systems; physician, patient, and medical staff (e.g., nurses, receptionists). We found that personal health record systems function as boundary objects that reflect significantly different meanings to the various user groups who interact with them. Our results show that patients largely view these systems as non-essential adjuncts to their current care routine, physicians see the systems as tools, and medical staff members view them as an additional task or chore with questionable effectiveness. This new conceptualization of these systems as boundary objects has significant implications for their design and use.


This article is published as George, Joey F. and Kohnke, Emily (2018) "Personal Health Record Systems as Boundary Objects," Communications of the Association for Information Systems: Vol. 42 , Article 2. DOI: 10.17705/1CAIS.04202 Available at:

Personal Health Record Systems, Boundary Objects, Health Information Systems, Case Study