Are there any drawbacks to personal health records?

Building a complete health record takes some time. You have to collect and enter all your health information. Plus, you have to keep your record current by updating it each time you see a doctor, fill a prescription, have a test or go to the hospital.

Why isn't there an easier way? Doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and insurance companies have been slow to adopt information technology. Only a minority of these groups can send information electronically to your personal health record.

Even if your doctor can send information to your personal health record, you need to review whatever is sent. The process of transferring health data electronically is still in its infancy — and it isn't always perfect. If you can access the health records maintained by your provider, another option may be to download the information yourself. Check with your doctor or your doctor's staff to see if this is a possibility.

Will the information be kept private?

Perhaps the most common concerns about personal health records are about privacy and security. To address these concerns, reputable electronic personal health record 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 to protect the security of personal health information.

Where do I start?

As with any decision about your health, it's important to do a little research before you jump in. When you're evaluating your options, consider these questions:

  • Is the electronic personal health record system easy for me to use?
  • Can I enter all the information I want to track?
  • How will my information be kept private?
  • Will information be added to my record from outside sources, such as insurance or doctors' offices? How and what will be added?
  • Can I correct or delete information in my record?
  • Can I share information with my doctor and other caregivers?
  • Can I upload data from home-monitoring devices, such as a peak flow meter or blood pressure measuring device?
  • What will it cost? Are there any special fees?
  • Will it help me manage my health by providing information and advice?
  • Can I create an account for my whole family and manage information for my family members?
Jun. 25, 2014 See more In-depth