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Benefits of Using a Personal Health Record System

Article submitted by Rebecca Sharp Colmer: Eldercare Advocate, Author, Publisher, Speaker. Find Rebecca’s books online.
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Information is fundamental to delivering value in care delivery.

In today's complex and ever-changing medical world it is no longer acceptable to be a passive patient in your medical care and to leave all the decision making to the doctors. There are plenty of reasons that many patients now need to be more involved in their care and their medical decisions.

Being an advocate for yourself means being actively involved in getting what you want and need. It’s your health, and no one has more incentive to take care of it than you do. You can’t depend on anyone else to take the reins when it comes to your health. The responsibility lies with you.

One of the best ways to be your own self-health advocate is to use a personal health record system. Both patients and healthcare providers alike can benefit when a personal health record is added to the providers electronic medical record. Unlike the EMR, the personal health record is created and controlled by the patient. Keep in mind, as important as it is to gather your health information in one spot, you won't achieve the full benefits unless you use the information to manage your health.

Since you, the patient, are the one ultimately responsible for your own health, having you manage your own wellness and healthcare decision making can contribute to better healthcare outcomes. A personal health record not only allows you to share information with your care providers but also empowers you to manage your health between visits.

Patients and their caregivers who manage chronic conditions, have much to gain from the use of a personal health record system. Your PHR system should be customized to include decision and support capabilities and features. If you have a written or digital record, it will be much easier for you to remember and explain your concerns to your physician at your next meeting.

Most patients receive care from multiple healthcare providers. PHRs can facilitate continuity of care across providers by allowing patients to better coordinate care with various healthcare providers.

PHRs can also help to improve the speed and quality of communication between doctors and their patients. Other benefits from this communication are: potential drug reactions can be more easily detected, providers can be informed and intervene earlier if a health issue arises and patients may be more likely to adhere to their medication schedules.

Having a digital personal health record can be a literally be a lifesaver. In an emergency you can quickly give emergency personnel accurate, current and vital information, such as a disease you're being treated for, medications you take, drug allergies, and how to contact your family doctor.

Other benefits of a personal health record enables you to:

  • Track and assess your health. Record and track your progress toward your health goals.
  • Make the most of doctor visits. Your PHR helps both you and the doctor stay informed. Your time with the doctor is limited, so make good use of it by communicating your concerns clearly
  • Manage your health between visits. Upload and analyze data from home-monitoring devices and remind yourself of your doctor's instructions from your last office visit.
  • Stay organized. Track appointments, vaccinations, and preventive or screening services.
  • Become knowledgeable about your own health and any conditions or diseases that you may have.
  • Be informed. But with a little effort, you can be a more effective advocate for yourself. Have a current list of your medications handy, as well as phone numbers of your doctors and pharmacies plus a basic list of your medical problems, surgeries, and allergies

Even relatively straightforward information can yield an astonishing impact on your health and care.

Posted August 2013 on