Personal Health Record

A personal health record (PHR) is health data and related information maintained by the patient. The intention of a PHR is to provide a complete and accurate summary of an individual’s medical history when the patient and the medical community cannot.  

Today, patients are expected to understand their health and engage fully in their care, although friends and family members are often involved in the process of caretaking. There are various tools for health information technology available to help patients and their caregivers handle their responsibilities, and one such tool is the personal health record. Well designed and implemented, PHRs can assist patients in managing their health information better.

As a patient, you oversee compiling and keeping your PHR. It may be a folder or stack of papers.  However, people are changing to electronic PHR systems whereby they store health information in a secure location where they can maintain, update, and share it with medical professionals as necessary.

Why do I need one?

When you relocate, change healthcare providers, or get medical treatment while on vacation, your health history will be requested. It is often difficult to remember all this information and recall it in the moment. Having a well-maintained PHR can make these situations easier. PHRs can also save you in emergencies. While in crisis, it may be challenging or impossible to recall vital information relevant to saving your life, and a PHR can do that for you.

How does it work?

Online solutions are emerging for storing and maintaining PHRs. The patient inputs their medical history into this system, similar to filling out a form provided in an initial visit with a new doctor.

The patient can provide the information to anyone of their choosing by simply providing an ID and password. Medical personnel can access PHRs in an emergency by providing their medical license information and a patient ID, if the patient has preapproved the access.

How do I create one?

Creating a personal health record is easy.

  • First, get medical records from your physician.
  • Review the records. Make corrections if necessary.
  • Compile the records in one location or database.

Look for a PHR solution that won’t need to be changed if insurance or healthcare providers change. These are common reasons to need the information. Existing medical providers will already have it in their records. Insurance changes often are a reason a PHR is needed.

What is included in a personal health record?

We have established that a personal health record is a collection of vital information for a patient’s health. It may include:

  • Contact information of the patient and the members of their family
  • List of Medications
  • List of Diagnosis
  • List of Allergies
  • Immunization history
  • Health insurance information like the name of the insurance company and service numbers
  • Names, phone numbers, and addresses of health providers with dentists and specialists included.
  • Family medical history
  • Lab and test results

The PHR is controlled by the patient and can contain health information from different sources, such as multiple healthcare personnel and the patients themselves.

Personal health records play a vital role in upgrading a better, more efficient, and safe North American and U.S. healthcare system. They are a valuable asset for patients and families. The personal health record is a lifelong health information resource necessary for individuals to make vital health decisions.

Patients own the PHR while the healthcare providers help to manage the information recorded there. The PHR is kept in a private and safe environment, while the individual determines rights of access. However, PHRs do not replace the legal medical records of healthcare providers.

How can I access my medical records?

Making a move to review your medical records is an intelligent decision, and it is also your right. It enables you to keep your information up to date and correct inaccuracies or supply the missing information.

Most facilities will request you fill a form to access your medical records. Usually, the request form is delivered by fax, email, or postal service or collected at the request office. If there’s no form at the office, you can write a letter stating your request.

Specific U.S. state and federal laws enable patients to get direct access to medical record information by obtaining copies, reviewing the record, or getting a summary of their care. If you want to access your medical records or get a copy of the document, you need to contact your clinic or hospital and the doctor’s office where you received treatment.

For the hospital or office to release such confidential documents as the medical record information, you are required to complete a medical release authorization form. There are no underlying charges for medical records to get sent to another hospital, doctor, or medical institution to continue the care. However, other non-record requests may require a fee for scanning documents and photocopying your medical records.

The 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) gives you the right to get copies of some of your medical records, no matter how they are maintained, either on paper or electronically. These records include medical test results, doctor’s notes, billing information, and lab results.

Who May Request Medical Records?

Although HIPAA regulations are designed for privacy protection, they are so extensive and often confuse providers on how they are enforced. Sometimes, it is challenging to acquire these records, even when you are entitled to them.

You are entitled to request medical records if you fall into these categories:

  • If you are the parent or caretaker of the patient or the patient himself whose records are needed
  • You are an advocate with written permission from the patient. Sometimes, the healthcare personnel will get a permission form that the patient must complete.

According to the law, some people think that only patients or their designated can acquire copies of these medical records; specific organizations or individuals have the right to access these records. Not only does it include your doctor, but third parties who you have been given access to your medical records deliberately when you filled a registration form.

Medical practitioners and organizations such as hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies, and rehabilitation centers are also included. With HIPAA, it is your right to ask for your health records. 

Is a patient’s health record a legal document?

Medical records maintained by healthcare providers are legal documents that serve as proof of care provided. These records are created accurately at the point of care and should be well maintained. Hence, it contributes to the success of a lawsuit or in response to a complaint by a regulatory authority. Medical records should be legible and accurate.

The personal health record is a lifelong document, a separate form for vital health information necessary to make decisions on health. A personal health record does not replace the legal history of records required to be kept by healthcare providers. PHRs include data from different sources, including the patient and healthcare providers, and may provide a more rounded and accurate understanding of a patient’s medical history.

With Personal health records, the individual is the central focus of this health information. This position comes with new benefits and has responsibilities for the patient and their caregivers in the structure of health information.

Can I delete my medical records?

You are the only one with the right to remove your medical record from your physician’s custody. If you feel the information stored in your medical history is inaccurate, you can ask to change or amend the record. Your healthcare provider is compelled to respond to this request.

What is the difference between a patient portal and a Personal Health Record?

Typically, a patient portal is a concept of an (EMR) electronic medical records, (HMS) hospital management system, or (EHR) electronic health records. Data from any of these systems is posted on the portal. The individual is given a secure login. They can see the clinical information or results and relationships with healthcare providers by booking appointments, submitting messages, or asking for renewals of medications. This portal is controlled by the EHR, EMR, or hospital, which is the source system.

Personal Health Record (PHR) is more centered on patients. A family member or patient controls it, and this may be connected to a hospital or doctor, either tethered or untethered. The information in the PHR is shared at the patient’s discretion. Both personal health records and patient portals are essential for healthcare management.

Benefits of Personal Health Records include:

  • Continuity of records: people often change jobs, doctors, insurance, and move.
  • Patients become more involved in handling their healthcare; thus, there are better results.
  • Giving patients control over specific tasks can reduce administrative workloads, such as viewing lab results and reports.

Note: Information found in a PHR can be more reliable and accurate, and updated. However, it needs efforts from their care providers and patients. A PHR is a lifesaver. In emergencies, you can use it to give first responders crucial information like diseases you are treating, drug allergies, medication, and your physician’s contact.

If you encounter different doctors that use other EHR systems, the best way to store your health information in one location is by using a PHR. It empowers you to manage your health thus:

  • Tracking your progress and accessing your health. Recording progress, like reducing your cholesterol level.
  • Maximize doctor’s visits. Arrive prepared to answer questions.
  • Analyze data from monitoring devices like blood pressure cuff. Be reminded of your doctor’s advice from the last appointment.
  • Be organized. Track vaccinations, appointments, and screening services like mammograms. Studies have proven that parents utilize personal health records for children and these children are more likely to get checkups on time.

Benefits of Patient Portals include:

  • You are quickly seeing lab results and diagnostic results using a secure login.
  • You can schedule appointments and prescription renewal requests.
  • Capable of communicating with healthcare providers.
  • Access reminders for results, appointments, and diagnostic investigations.
  • Get pre-clinic assessment forms and registration forms you can download.
  • You can get health information on clinical conditions.

A personal health record is a collection of vital information about your health. If you have a folder or short description of medical records, you have a personal health record. The major setback to paper records is that you rarely get them when you need them. Electronic personal health records (PHRs) are a solution to this problem.

PHRs are different from electronic health records (EHRs), referred to as electronic medical records (EMRs), owned by hospitals or health insurance. EHRs contain the essential information you should put in a PHR like your date of birth, drug allergies, and medication list. EHRs have extensive knowledge as health providers use them to store notes and test results.

In some instances, PHRs may be used to provide information to record in a patient portal. You may consider getting some necessary information at hand if an emergency happens, like advance directives that address your healthcare decisions.

There are health apps for a different smartphone, making it easy to access critical information that first responders can use for emergencies. Medical ID displays allergies, blood type, medications, and emergency contacts. If you are a registered organ donor, you can indicate this in your PHR.

It is essential to ensure that your apps are secure so your information is protected. You can also wear a medical alert bracelet or keep a card on you.

Will my information be confidential?

The common concerns about PHRs are security and privacy. In addressing these issues, top PHR systems use industry best practices like publicizing privacy policies and giving independent organizations the free will to monitor them. Federal laws are put in place to protect the security of personal health information.

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