What are the benefits of a PHR?
Having a PHR can be a lifesaver, literally. In an emergency you can quickly give first responders vital information, such as diseases you're being treated for, medications you take, drug allergies, and contact information for your doctor.
If you see multiple doctors and they don't use the same EHR system, a PHR is a good way to keep all of your health information in one place.
A PHR also empowers you to manage your health between visits. For example, a PHR enables you to:
- Track and assess your health. Record and track your progress toward your health goals, such as lowering your cholesterol level.
- Make the most of doctor visits. Be ready with questions for your doctor and information you want to share, such as blood pressure readings since your last visit.
- Manage your health between visits. Upload and analyze data from home-monitoring devices such as a blood pressure cuff. And remind yourself of your doctor's instructions from your last appointment.
- Get organized. Track appointments, vaccinations, and preventive or screening services, such as mammograms. In fact, one study found that when parents used personal health records for their children, the children were more likely to get their preventive well-child checkups on time.
Are there drawbacks to PHRs?
Building a complete health record takes some time. You have to collect and enter all your health information. Only a minority of doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and insurance companies can send information electronically to a PHR that isn't part of a patient portal.
In most cases, you will have to update your PHR manually each time you see the doctor, fill a prescription, have a test or go to the hospital.
Even if you use a patient portal, you still need to review the information that's added to it. The process of transferring health data electronically isn't always perfect and mistakes can happen.
Will my information be kept private?
Perhaps the most common concerns about PHRs are about privacy and security. To address these issues, reputable PHR systems follow industry best practices, such as making their privacy policies public and submitting to monitoring by independent organizations. In addition, federal laws have been put in place to protect the security of personal health information.
How do I get started?
If your primary care doctor offers a patient portal, use it. The staff at the front desk should be able to tell you how to register for it. (If your doctor doesn't offer one, ask if one will be available in the future.) Then start taking advantage of its features. Most portals offer the following:
July 06, 2017
- Appointment reminders
- Medication list
- Appointment summaries, sometimes with associated educational material
- Secure messaging with your provider
- Test results
See more In-depth
- Ozok AA, et al. Usability and perceived usefulness of personal health records for preventive health care: A case study focusing on patients' and primary care providers' perspectives. Applied Ergonomics. 2014;45:613.
- Personal health records. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). http://www.himss.org/personal-health-records. Accessed April 20, 2017.
- Roehrs A, et al. Personal health records: A systematic literature review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2017;19:e13.
- What are the benefits of personal health records? HealthIT.gov. http://www.healthit.gov/providers-professionals/faqs/what-are-benefits-personal-health-records. Accessed April 20, 2017.
- Tom JO, et al. Personal health record use and association with immunizations and well-child care visits recommendations. Journal of Pediatrics. 2014;164:112.
- Helping consumers select PHRs: Questions and considerations for navigating an emerging market. American Health Information Management Association. http://library.ahima.org/xpedio/groups/public/documents/ahima/bok1_032260.hcsp?dDocName=bok1_032260. Accessed April 20, 2017.
- Personal health records and the HIPAA privacy rule. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/healthit/phrs.pdf. Accessed April 20, 2017.
- Irizarry T, et al. Patient portals and patient engagement: A state of the science review. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2015;17:e148.
- Apple & Donate Life America bring national organ donor registration to iPhone. http://www.apple.com/newsroom/2016/07/apple-and-donate-life-america-bring-organ-donation-to-iphone.html. Accessed April 24, 2017.
- Personal health records: What health care providers need to know. HealthIT.gov. https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/about-phrs-for-providers-011311.pdf. Accessed April 24, 2017.
- Takahashi PY (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 25, 2017.