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Thursday, 4 July 2019

What is a personal health record?

Personal Health Record (PHR )

The term "personal health record" is not new. The term was used as early as June 1978,and in 1956, there was a reference was made to a "personal health log."The term "PHR" may be applied to both paper-based and computerized systems usage in the late 2010s usually implies an electronic application used to collect and store health data.

In the early 2000s, healthcare organizations began to propose formal definitions of the term.

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Definition of the PHR

The personal health record (PHR) is an electronic, lifelong resource of health information needed by individuals to make health decisions. Individuals own and manage the information in the PHR, which comes from healthcare providers and the individual. The PHR is maintained in a secure and private environment, with the individual determining rights of access. The PHR does not replace the legal record of any provider.


What is a personal health record?

  • A personal health record is simply a collection of information about your health. If you have a shot record or a folder of medical papers, you already have a basic personal health record.

  • And you've probably encountered the big drawback of paper records: You rarely have them with you when you need them.

  • Electronic personal health records (PHRs) remedy that problem by making your information accessible to you anytime via web-enabled devices, such as computers, smartphones and tablets.

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Why do I need one?

hand holding a smartphone displaying a medications listAnytime you move, switch healthcare providers, or seek medical treatment during a vacation, you will be asked to provide your health history. It can be difficult to remember all of this information. Having a PHR on hand means you know the answer when you are asked when your last tetanus shot was or  the dosage of your medications.

PHRs can also save you in an emergency situation. Consider this example: If you were to experience a health emergency at work, or on a trip with friends, would your companions be able to answer questions about your health history and current healthcare provider? In a time of crisis, it can be difficult to remember important and potentially life-saving information; a PHR can do that work for you.

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:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Medication list
  • Appointment summaries, sometimes with associated educational material
  • Secure messaging with your provider
  • Test results

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The aim was to assess the use and utility of PHRs in a low-income, elderly population.


We deployed a Web-based, institution-neutral PHR system, the Personal Health Information Management System (PHIMS), in a federally funded housing facility for low-income and elderly residents. We assessed use and user satisfaction through system logs, questionnaire surveys, and user group meetings.

What Is the Difference Between a PHR and an EHR?

• Information in an electronic health record or “EHR”
is typically entered by and accessed by health care
providers. It may only have information from one health
care provider or a group practice.

• A PHR is a record controlled by the individual and may
include health information from a variety of sources,
including multiple health care providers and the patients
themselves. The PHR is separate from, and does not
replace the legal record of any health care provider.

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What kind of information should I put in my PHR?

✔  Emergency contacts

✔  Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your healthcare providers, including specialists and dentists

✔  Health insurance information, such as the name of your insurance company and key phone numbers for service

✔  Current medications and dosages

✔  Allergies (to foods, drugs and other substances)

✔  Important events, dates, and hereditary conditions in your family history

✔  A list and dates of significant illnesses and surgical procedures

✔  Results from recent doctor visits

✔  Important tests results; eye and dental records, immunization records

✔  Any information you want to include about your health - such as your exercise regimen, any over-the-counter or herbal medications you take and any counseling you may receive.

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.

What about privacy?

Online PHR systems are not covered by HIPPA; however, most have a very similar privacy policy of their own. Take the time to read it before you start an account.

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Of the 170 residents in one facility of EHA, 41 were enrolled in this study and data were complete on 38 residents as of March 2006. The mean age of the participants was 69 (range: 49 to 92 years of age), 82% were female, and many had chronic diseases.

Recruitment is ongoing, with up to two residents per week are being enrolled. Since the initiation of this study 1 resident died, and 7 moved to another location. Two of the patients who moved are still using PHIMS.

Of the 38 residents that participated, 11 had their own computers. Nine of them were able to initially enter and maintain their health information in PHIMS without assistance. The remaining 29 residents were assisted by a nurse or social worker in entering their health information into PHIMS.

Access issues, akin to Tang’s “environmental barriers,” were significant for some patients. Our study did not assess specific instances where access was a barrier. Anecdotally, these instances occurred far more frequently in the portion of the study population who did not own computers.

While 11 of the 38 who participated had computers, the remaining 27 non-computer-owning, participants found their access to the computers was limited to hours when the computer room was open. For all participants, access to assistance with data entry was limited by the nurses schedules or the availability of the social worker. We did not capture instances when patients wanted assistance but neither the nurses or social worker were available

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