3/31/2012 9:59:00 PM Personal health records put you in control of your health information
Yavapai Regional Medical Center
From paying your bills to arranging travel, more and more people are managing major aspects of their lives by using a computer. Healthcare is no exception. According to a national study released in 2010, one in 14 Americans had used a personal health record (PHR) that year, double the number of users from a year earlier.
A PHR is a digital record with information about your health that you, or someone assisting you, access and maintain using a computer. Via the Internet, you can access a PHR almost anywhere. PHRs use secure technology to protect your information from being seen without permission. PHR users have a unique user ID and password. You control the health information in your PHR and who can see that information.
How does the PHR fit into this new digital healthcare world? The PHR is a component of electronic medical records (EMRs), a digital version of the paper chart long used by healthcare providers - physicians, hospitals and others - to document patients' medical information. EMRs combine all of a patient's medical data into a single record that can be accessed by each of his or her healthcare providers. The HITECH Act passed by Congress in 2009 offers doctors and hospitals special incentives to adopt EMRs by 2015.
A PHR electronically maintained by you can give your medical team greater insight into your complete medical history, thereby making it easier for them to make informed decisions about your health.
The National Institutes of Health notes that PHRs - offered to consumers by hospitals, physicians or private companies - may include:
Your name, birth date, blood type and emergency contact
Date of your last physical
Dates and results of tests and screenings
Major illnesses and surgeries and their dates
A list of your medications, dosages and how long you've been taking them
A list of all allergies
A list of chronic diseases
A history of illnesses in your family
PHRs can help you avoid getting duplicate procedures or tests, saving both time and money. Some PHRs allow you to refill prescriptions, schedule appointments, email your physician, and learn more about your condition and medications. A PHR may also include consent and authorization forms relating to hospital admissions, treatments, surgeries and the release of information.
A PHR may be accessed securely from most any computer with an Internet connection. For example, if you have a medical emergency when you're on vacation, you can easily locate a current list of medications and other significant medical information on your PHR.
A PHR also gives you control over your personal medical data and empowers you to use that information to manage your health like never before. If you don't already have access to a PHR, rest assured, you will soon as healthcare organizations move quickly to offer their patients PHR access.