The PHR

Your personal health record (PHR) is a vital resource for you, your family, and your healthcare providers. BlueCross/BlueShield has published several very informative brochures, available online, which are well worth reading, now, and then referencing later.

One of the most important things you need to do is decide how and where you will create, maintain, and use your personal health record (PHR). Health information is scattered through many different electronic health records (EHR)–e.g., EHRs on Health IT systems belonging to your physicians, hospitals and clinics, health insurers; myMedicare EHR; EHRs accessed via myHealtheVet  or TriCare Online; and others. And, of course, there is the healthcare information scattered about at home: paper records kept in folders, notebooks, or drawers, and documents on desktop and laptop computer hard drives.

info-iconA good PHR will integrate all of a patient’s health information into a single, accurate, comprehensive, secure and accessible record.

Here are some criteria which may useful in deciding what type of PHR to create and where and how to create and maintain a good PHR:

    • You don’t want to duplicate the substantial effort by setting up, entering, and updating your health information in multiple PHRs.
    • You don’t want to keep your PHR where it cannot be accessed by those who have a need to know; e.g., EMR personnel, healthcare professionals treating you.
    • You do want to keep your PHR where you can use the most empowering web-based and mobile device apps for managing and using the information in your PHR.

traffic_lightSelect Where You’ll Keep Your PHR. You need to determine where the one best place is for your PHR; i.e., where you have the most access and greatest capability for creating, maintaining, using, and sharing the health information in your PHR.

  1. Assess the capabilities and limitations of possible locations of your PHR. For example, while you can entry and maintain some of your health information in myMedicare.com, it fails to meet criteria suggested, above, for your PHR.
  2. Check out these resources for more advice on choosing and using a PHR:
    1. 12 Questions Consumers Should Ask when Choosing a PHR
      [good, though dated], and
    2. Understanding Your Medical Record.
  3. Learn about Blue Button, a capability that many HealthIT systems provide for easily and securely downloading–even sharing–your health information.
  4. Determine if your healthcare provider or insurer offers a PHR–e.g., one similar to the free WebMD personal health record–and if available, learn as much as you can about its features, use, and limittions.
  5. Also, before you decide, learn about HealthVault, as it may be the your best choice.
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