I have written a number of previous notes about personal health records (PHRs). Here is a link to a set of previous notes on this blog about PHRs. Here is the link to a recent article on the web about PHRs and below is an excerpt from it. Reference is made in the article to the electronic health record (EHR) which differs from the EMR (electronic medical record) in that it is conceptually a longitudinal record of all health events for a patient and family. The EMR, by way of contrast, documents inpatient and outpatient services delivered in a specific health system.
The PHR is the latest addition to the alphabet soup that is health care, and it may actually do a body good...The PHR is the one place where you can accumulate all your health information in a consistent way to reflect your lifetime of care....[A]ny efforts hospitals make now to develop EHRs may well aid individuals building PHRs. And from a legal standpoint, every patient does, in fact, own their own health data....Consumers who collect and control access to their health records have [an advantage, particularly for those] with a chronic disease or a person dealing with cancer....A national survey of about 1,100 adults that Harris Interactive conducted in July found that 7 percent of U.S. adults use online personal health records.
This article makes a number of interesting points regarding PHRs in contrast to EMRs and EHRs:
- EMRs are created by a health system largely as documentation of the services delivered to patients within that system. Although patients are entitled to copies of those documents, they are generally not created with patient needs as a major concern. When articles such as this cite the dogma that "patients own their own health data," the reality is that patients really have the right to receive a copy of their records.
- I suspect that it is only the most obsessive among us who are willing and able to use the various web-based PHR services to laboriously create their own PHRs. However, I do agree with the idea that this is a very good idea, particularly in the event of disasters when hospital records are destroyed.
- As I have stated previously, it will become increasingly common in this era of the EMRs that patients can obtain an electronic copy of their health records from a health system and perhaps even from their private physician. If such records are available in a standard format, it should be possible to upload these records to a web-based PHR service. Ideally, the patient should be able to supplement and amend these documents with additional data about events not documented in the hospital record.
- Also, as noted previously in this blog (link here) and for those people who are the most at risk, these data can be stored on a portable flash memory "key drive" such that they can be presented to hospital personnel in the event of an acute health crisis.