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Personal Health Records

Health Information at Your Fingertips - Personal Health Records

Personal Health Records

It's frustrating to hunt around for information you suddenly need about your son's last tetanus shot. Or when you had your last mammogram. It would be nice to have this type of information at your fingertips.

Personal health records, or PHRs, allow you to do this. A PHR is a collection of important information that you keep about your health or the health of someone that you care for, such as a parent or a child. You actively maintain and update the information.

In some offices where doctors have put in electronic health systems, patients can see some of this information through a “patient portal”. This allows you to get access to certain types of information and services such as setting up an appointment, getting lab results, referrals, or prescription drug information. If this type of service is important to you, check to see if it is available in your doctor's office.

But many of us go to multiple doctors and health professionals, so it's nice to have information all in one place. That's where a PHR can help.

The types of information that you might keep in a PHR include:

  • A list of illnesses or operations
  • Prescription drugs
  • Immunizations and other preventive screening results
  • Lab reports
  • History and physicals
  • Visit information and summaries

 

In some cases, X-rays and other imaging reports can also be stored in a PHR—as well as your own observations about how you feel.

PHRs can be set up and maintained the old fashioned way, using paper in folders or binders, though many people want to keep information on-line. This can be done either by downloading software onto your computer, or using a web-based application. Some PHRs are free – others you purchase. In some cases, a PHR might be available through your doctor's office, workplace or insurance company.

For an excellent overview of PHRs see the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) website myPHR: http://www.myphr.com

myPHR also provides links to a list of online and paper PHRs here:

http://www.myphr.com/resources/choose.aspx

If you want information about how to get copies of your medical record to start building your PHR, see this former Patch story: “How to Get Your Medical Records” (2-8-12):

http://annapolis.patch.com/blog_posts/blog-how-to-get-your-medical-records

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ginger Woolridge November 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Thank you for this excellent article. When we, or a loved one, is ill or injured, it can be difficult to recall or locate this sort of information.
Merle Bushkin November 28, 2012 at 04:18 PM
A PHR that you keep and must update yourself can be a useful tool but most people find it too much trouble to maintain, and its content too limited to be of value to their doctors. There's a new, much more comprehensive form of personal health record available today that you, the patient, own and control, and carry on your key chain or in your wallet. It's called MedKaz. (see medkaz.com for detailed information about it) It contains all your records (actual progress notes, lab reports, etc.) from all your care providers. You give it to a care provider anytime and anywhere you need care. When you enter your password they can sort, search and read its contents, as needed, to understand your issues, coordinate your care, avoid making mistakes and ordering unnecessary tests. And they update it for you. MedKaz benefits everyone concerned with a patient's healthcare: the patient, their families, their providers, their insurers and their employers. Full disclosure: I am founder & CEO of Health Record Corporation, creator of the MedKaz personal health record system.
Paula Rapp May 07, 2013 at 05:39 PM
As a former ER nurse, I too find that having a detailed personal health record greatly reduces patient's stress and feelings of being overwhelmed by medical data. Based on watching years and years of patients being confused and unsure of their medical history, I created GreenPear Health organizational binders (www.greenpearhealth.com). Although many people have gone online with their medial data, I still felt the need to give patients a physical product in which they could record and interact. Furthermore, in times of a crises it is easy to access as well as for family members to locate. Bottom line, whether traditional paper and pen or electronic version, every person should keep track of their medical histories to become better advocates for themselves.

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