Why a Personal Health Record is Important: Another Perspective

I’ve been tooling around Google looking for articles and blogs on personal health records.

Doing so, I came across this at Harvard University’s Program for Health System Improvement e-newsletter, an interview with David Lansky, Ph.D., senior director for health programs at the Markle Foundation. The patient fusion portal can be used as EHR for patients.

Why PHR is Important by Dr Recommendation

Dr. Lansky is a vocal advocate for all things that will make the country’s health care system “more responsive and accountable” and he’s a big proponent of personal health records.

In fact, he states in the Q&A article at the PHSI’s e-newsletter that it’s “inevitable” that PHRs “will become mainstream.”

He also has a terrific definition of the differences between a personal health record and an electronic health record.

He says it better than I ever could, so I quote his definition in full below:

Q: How does a personal health record differ from an electronic health record?

DL: With a PHR, the individual accesses and controls their personal health information and they decide who sees it and what is in it – including information from all sources of care as well as the patient. The EHR is a medical-legal document that is under the control of and is the responsibility of a particular clinical care setting.

While PHRs are a terrific thing for patients, Dr. Lansky laments that consumers don’t yet use PHRs as they do online banking and other electronic tools that improve our lives today.

Naturally, he has an opinion about what needs to happen:

Q: What are some of the barriers to PHR adoption then?

DL: Patients are more likely to use a PHR if it is recommended by their doctor – and few doctors are convinced that PHRs add value, rather than risk and burden – to the care process. And there are few standards for PHR data that would enable the patient to easily take her information to a new doctor or health plan. Practice mate login is another PHR program by OFFICE ALLY.

Q: What will encourage uptake?

DL: The short answer is that most people, most of the time don’t want responsibility for managing all of their health information. Their information becomes much more important when they get sick and need to make complex decisions.

We expect that PHRs will be more highly valued when they are able to deliver specific value to people with specific needs – like managing diabetes or caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s disease – and they will do that best when there is a national information network that allows critical information to be easily and appropriately shared wherever it’s needed.

So why should you and I care?

Again, I’ll let Dr. Lansky speak for himself:

A PHR may have value even if your doctor does not use an EHR. A lot of your medical data is already available electronically and can be brought to your home computer – your medications, lab test results, diagnostic images, procedures, and diagnoses.

We shouldn’t delay using PHRs until all health professionals are using interoperable, connected EMRs – we’ll be waiting a long time.

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