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A Complete Guide on Personal Health Records


What is a Personal Health Record (PHR)?

In today’s fast-changing world of healthcare, where technology and information seamlessly come together, there’s one concept that stands out as a powerful tool for taking charge of your health journey: Personal Health Records (PHR). Imagine having all your health info right there whenever you need it, at the touch of a button. PHR is like a digital record of your medical history, treatments, prescriptions, and key health stats. It’s not just a record – it’s like a personal health guide that helps you stay informed and take an active role in your healthcare.

The perks of using PHR are many. It lets you see your health journey as a whole, which helps you make smart choices about your care. No more struggling to remember surgery dates or medication doses – it’s all in your PHR. Plus, it’s useful for doctors too, as it helps them create personalized treatment plans that work better for you.

A Personal Health Record holds a ton of info. It covers everything from basic details like your age and allergies to more detailed stuff like lab results and imaging reports. And it’s not just about past info – it can also include real-time data from wearables, giving insights into your daily activities, sleep patterns, and exercise habits.

Digging deeper, PHRs can be tailored for different needs. There are standalone systems offered by hospitals that let you manage your health records online. Then there are patient portals and Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems, which are a bit different from PHRs. Portals let you see some medical info, schedule appointments, and talk to your doctors. EHRs are like big digital records that doctors use in hospitals.

Keeping your PHR up to date takes some effort. Regular updates make sure your info is accurate and current, reflecting changes in your health. Thankfully, there are user-friendly apps that make this easy. You can add new data, check old records, and even set medication reminders – all from your phone.

When it comes to safety and privacy, modern PHR systems take your health info seriously. They use strong security measures to keep your data private and only accessible to authorized people, following industry rules and standards.

What Are The Benefits of PHR?

1. Organization and Convenience

With PHRs, you can conveniently organize and keep track of vital health information, such as appointments, vaccinations, medications, and screenings. Maintaining accurate and up-to-date records ensures timely preventive care, especially for children, promoting healthier lives.

2. Health Tracking and Assessment

PHRs enable you to monitor your progress towards health goals, like reducing cholesterol levels. By managing your health records, you ensure accuracy and inclusivity, mitigating the risk of medical errors, which is a leading cause of preventable deaths.

3. Patient Engagement

Empowerment lies in tracking your health journey outside clinical settings. PHRs engage patients in their well-being, as they can monitor their health trends, manage information, and participate actively in their healthcare decisions.

4. Control and Decision-Making

Regular updates of your PHR grant you control over access and content. It becomes a vital resource for decision-making regarding health conditions, treatment options, costs, chronic conditions, and preventive measures.

5. Emergency Preparedness

During emergencies, PHRs become lifesavers. With critical health data readily available, medical professionals can provide timely care even if patients can’t communicate.

6. Family Health Management

PHRs streamline caregiving by enabling family members to access and update health information. This coordination enhances healthcare quality for children, elderly parents, and spouses.

7. Maximizing Doctor Visits

PHRs enhance doctor visits with prepared questions and shared data. Monitoring devices’ information, like blood pressure readings, facilitates more productive discussions.

8. Communication and Collaboration

Many PHRs facilitate secure communication between patients and providers. This improves patient-doctor relationships and enables timely intervention in case of health issues.

9. Reminders and Alerts

PHRs help in staying on top of treatments, medications, and important test results through reminders. This reduces the chance of missed treatments.

10. Cost Savings

PHRs contribute to reducing wasteful spending and duplicate procedures in healthcare. By providing doctors with immediate access to necessary information, unnecessary tests can be avoided, leading to substantial cost savings for individuals and the healthcare industry as a whole.

11. Privacy and Security

PHRs prioritize personal privacy through password protection, ensuring that your health records remain secure and accessible only to authorized individuals.

What Information Goes Into a PHR?

Personal Health Record (PHR) serves as a comprehensive repository of an individual’s medical information, maintained either by the person themselves or a designated caregiver. It includes information like:

1. Diagnoses and Medications

The PHR includes records of diagnosed conditions and prescribed medications, including over-the-counter and alternative remedies.

2. Medical Procedures

Past medical and surgical procedures, along with relevant dates and outcomes, are documented in the PHR.

3. Allergies and Adverse Reactions

Information about drug allergies and adverse effects experienced by the individual is recorded for healthcare reference.

4. Chronic Illnesses

Any chronic illnesses the individual may have, their management, and treatment plans are included.

5. Family Medical History

The PHR may incorporate a family medical history section to track hereditary health conditions.

6. Injuries and Hospitalizations

Details about past injuries, accidents, and hospitalizations are documented.

7. Imaging and Lab Reports

X-rays, MRI scans, and other imaging reports, along with laboratory test results, are part of the PHR.

8. Medication Administration

Information about medications taken, dosage, frequency, and administration instructions is recorded.

9. Prescription History

A history of prescribed medications, changes in dosage, and discontinuations is maintained.

10. Surgical History

Records of surgeries and other medical procedures undergone by the individual are documented.

11. Vaccination Records

The PHR includes vaccination dates and types for immunization purposes.

12. Observations and Notes

Individuals can add personal observations about their health, lifestyle changes, and other relevant notes.

What are the Different Types of Personal Health Records?

Personal Health Record (PHR) types can be categorized into two groups based on their relation to the Privacy Rule:

1. Standalone PHRs

In this type, individuals directly input their medical data, which is stored online for easy access. Patients have the autonomy to decide if and when to share this information with others.

2. Connected PHRs

These are linked to healthcare organization systems. Tethered or connected PHRs allow individuals to access their records through secure portals maintained by healthcare institutions.

Why to Maintain a Personal Health Record?

While healthcare providers and hospitals generate records of your visits, your complete health information isn’t consolidated in a single format. Maintaining your Personal Health Record (PHR) empowers you to provide crucial information to healthcare professionals, enhancing the quality of care received.

What are the Drawbacks of Maintaining Paper Based PHR?

Dealing with paper-based Personal Health Records (PHRs) comes with its own set of challenges:

1. Scalability Issues

Unlike electronic records stored on cloud servers, paper records demand physical storage space. Managing physical files for a large volume of patients becomes cumbersome and requires proper facilities.

2. Limited Security and Backups

Paper records lack backup options, leaving them vulnerable to incidents like fires or data loss. Electronic records offer data redundancy and security measures to mitigate such risks.

3. Time-Consuming and Prone to Errors

Manual processes in paper-based records consume time and are prone to human errors, affecting legibility and accuracy. Electronic systems alleviate these issues with efficient data entry and retrieval mechanisms.

4. Inconsistent Layouts

Paper records can vary in layout, leading to inconsistencies that slow down information retrieval. Electronic records adhere to standardized formats for swift analysis.

5. Lack of Clear Audit Trails

Paper records lack built-in version histories and audit trails, making it challenging to trace changes and edits. Electronic health records automate auditing and version tracking, minimizing errors.

What is the Difference Between EHR and PHR?

Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) do more than just Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). They collect all kinds of health info from different healthcare pros who’ve been involved in a patient’s care – not just doctors, but specialists, labs, and places like that. EHRs put the focus on the patient, which is super helpful for making diagnoses and figuring out treatments. One big bonus is that EHRs help healthcare providers work together better. They make it safe and easy to share info, so the whole team can work more smoothly and make smarter choices. EHR systems have lots of pluses:

Personal Health Records (PHR)

Personal Health Records (PHRs) in India are like a handy toolkit for patients. They gather up all sorts of health info – allergies, medicines, past treatments, the whole deal. These records can be put together by the healthcare folks or even kick-started by the patients themselves. It’s all about getting people engaged and making informed decisions. Basically, patients become the captains of their own health ship, equipped with all the right info to chat with doctors when needed.

PHRs are like a mixtape of doctor visits, medical files, and even data from those gadgets and gizmos we wear at home. And guess what? It comes with a bunch of perks:

Which are Some of the Best PHR Apps in India?

The rise of digital technology has given birth to apps that make it easy to manage your Personal Health Records (PHR). In India, there are many impressive PHR apps available to meet different needs. These apps help you keep track of your health information smoothly and efficiently. Some of the popular PHR Apps in India include:

1. Health-e
2. Eka.care
3. Driefcase
4. Abha Health Locker by Paytm
5. DigiLocker

Can I Maintain my Personal Health Record Online?

Absolutely! With the assistance of a user-friendly PHR app like Health-e, you can easily establish and manage your Personal Health Record online.
Download Health-e NOW

Is My Personal Health Record Safe Online? How Can I Ensure the Privacy and Security of My Data?

In an age where technology has revolutionized the way we manage our health information, questions about the safety and security of Personal Health Records (PHRs) have become important. The digital realm offers convenience, but it also raises concerns about data privacy. To ensure the utmost protection for your PHR, it’s crucial to adopt a cautious approach and leverage certified platforms. When entrusting your PHR to an online platform, carefully examine the vendor’s privacy policy. This document outlines how your data is stored, accessed, and safeguarded. Verify that the vendor employs robust encryption protocols, firewalls, and stringent access controls. A reputable vendor will have a transparent policy detailing their commitment to data security. You can take a look at Health-e’s privacy policy to learn more about how we protect your data.

How Can I Share My PHR Data with Doctors or Healthcare Providers?

When sharing your PHR data with doctors or healthcare providers, consider the advantages of ABDM-certified PHRs. These platforms allow the seamless exchange of health records across different care provider organizations. ABDM-certified PHR apps offer a comprehensive view of your health journey, consolidating lab reports, treatment specifics, discharge summaries, and more into a single, easily accessible longitudinal record. Some other features also include:

• Getting an ABHA Number
• Finding Health Information
• Connecting Health Records to Your Personal Health Record (ABHA Address)
• Viewing Health Records
• Controlling Permission to Link Health Records to Your PHR
• Choosing Where to Store Health Records Securely
• Finding Facilities/Doctorss

Can a Personal Health Record Help With Chronic Disease Management?

To address your question, the team at National Library of Medicine conducted a comprehensive review of various studies. They looked at research from sources like PubMed itself, Scopus, Web of Science, and Embase. Their search wasn’t limited to a specific time frame, but the data collection concluded in August 2018.

In total, they identified 3742 studies. After sorting through them, the focus narrowed down to 35 studies that met their criteria. Out of these 35, 18 studies were conducted within the United States, 24 centered around individuals with diabetes, and 32 delved into tethered Personal Health Records (PHRs).

Interestingly, in 25 studies, patients dealing with chronic conditions were able to use PHRs to access their medical records and personal health information. The findings were quite promising, particularly in terms of helping manage chronic diseases, which was discussed in 10 of the studies.

Based on their discoveries, it might be prudent to consider developing more feature-rich PHRs. These could empower patients to take a more active role in their own healthcare, potentially leading to fewer doctor visits. This could have the added benefit of saving both families and society money in the long run.

Jigar Patel is the Founder of Health-e, a HealthTech app that simplifies health records management along with providing personalized and preventative healthcare solutions. Although he has 20+ years of operations and management experience in the EPC domain, Jigar’s true passion lies in making healthcare simpler, faster and more accessible for doctors and patients alike. He strongly believes that people need to be empowered to participate in their own healthcare and is constantly thinking of ways to build this into his app. He loves to keep things simple be it in life, product design, his work or the content he develops. Being married for 10 years and having 2 kids have taught him that perspective matters, so you can always count on him to share new perspectives on various topics.