Why Personal Health Record (PHR) is inevitable ?

Many people use the terms electronic medical record (EMR), electronic health record (EHR) and personal health record (PHR) interchangeably. But arguably they mean very different things.

EMR (electronic medical record) Definition

The EMR or electronic medical record refers to everything you’d find in a paper chart, such as medical history, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies. While EMRs work well within a practice, they’re limited because they don’t easily travel outside the practice. In fact, the patient’s medical record might even have to be printed out and mailed for another provider to see it.

Advantages of Electronic Medical Records

An EMR is more beneficial than paper records because it allows providers to:

  • Track data over time
  • Identify patients who are due for preventive visits and screenings
  • Monitor how patients measure up to certain parameters, such as vaccinations and blood pressure readings
  • Improve overall quality of care in a practice

The information stored in EMRs is not easily shared with providers outside of a practice. A patient’s record might even have to be printed out and delivered by mail to specialists and other members of the care team.

EHR (electronic health record) Definition

EHR or electronic health record are digital records of health information. They contain all the information you’d find in a paper chart — and a lot more. EHRs include past medical history, vital signs, progress notes, diagnoses, medications, immunization dates, allergies, lab data and imaging reports. They can also contain other relevant information, such as insurance information, demographic data, and even data imported from personal wellness devices.

Advantages of EHR

  • EHRs and the ability to exchange health information electronically can help you provide higher quality and safer care for patients while creating tangible enhancements for your organization. EHRs help providers better manage care for patients and provide better health care by:
  • Providing accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care
  • Enabling quick access to patient records for more coordinated, efficient care
  • EHR systems focus on the total health of the patient. EHR software is designed to reach out beyond the health organization that originally collects and compiles the information. They are built to share information with other health care providers, such as laboratories and specialists, so they contain information from all the clinicians involved in the patient’s care.
  • Helping providers more effectively diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provide safer care
  • Improving patient and provider interaction and communication, as well as health care convenience
  • Enabling safer, more reliable prescribing
  • EHR software can provide clinical reminder alerts, connect experts for health care decision support, and analyze aggregate data for both care management and research.
  • Helping promote legible, complete documentation and accurate, streamlined coding and billing
  • Enhancing privacy and security of patient data
  • Helping providers improve productivity and work-life balance
  • Enabling providers to improve efficiency and meet their business goals. EHRs are the future of healthcare because they provide critical data that informs clinical decisions, and they help coordinate care between all providers in the healthcare ecosystem.
  • Reducing costs through decreased paperwork, improved safety, reduced duplication of testing, and improved health.
  • The information moves with the patient—to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, the next state or even across the country. EHR systems are designed to be accessed by all people involved in the patients care—including the patients themselves.

PHR (personal health record) Definition

An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be drawn from multiple sources while being managed, shared, and controlled by the individual.

As the name suggests, PHR is managed by the patients themselves. This allows them to maintain a log of their health- allergies, medications, treatments, health conditions, family medical history and more. PHR is set up either by health providers or by patients themselves, for patient engagement or personal use. Patients can actively participate in their care and are more empowered to make decisions about their health as they have all the vital information available to them. Like an EHR system, they can also choose to share this information with their doctors when needed. Information in PHR often includes a combination of clinical information from doctor visits, medical and lab reports and data they may be monitoring themselves from home monitoring devices or wearable activity trackers.

Advantages of PHR

  • Empowers patients to be actively involved, thereby improving adherence and health outcomes
  • Health data in a PHR can be shared with various providers for second opinions and follow-up care
  • Provides doctors with a comprehensive understanding of their patient’s health, including details about familial medical history and social factors impacting their patient’s health
  • Allows for effective home care and remote monitoring as patients can actively provide updates to their care providers
  • Allows all the patient’s doctors to work together as a team, minimizing health complications

The information in a PHR can be thought of as a combination of data from an EHR, together with patient-generated health data. This is more closely tied to meaningful use as it is powered by the patients, for their own care.

Researchers have forecasted that adoption of personal health records (PHRs) will increase to the point where 75 percent of adults will use a PHR by 2020. Personal health records (PHRs) offer a tremendous opportunity to generate consumer support in pursing the triple aim of reducing costs, increasing access, and improving care quality.

Present challenges

Most of our health management systems in India have been developed keeping the core interests of healthcare service providers, thereby keeping away the consumer or payer’s interest on the periphery. This has often lead to issues of interoperability of electronic/health records between healthcare payers & providers.

PHR if well adopted can be a powerful instrument & in fact result in altering relationships with in healthcare industry. A consumer with his access to PHR can have better access to quality healthcare & can control their own healthcare needs. The increase in online second opinions & doctor consultations is a direct reminder to the decision makers in healthcare on how the PHR can impact the market.

Why PHR is inevitable, an emerging solution?

The rising number of lifestyle and chronic diseases, the cost of healthcare & the growth of health awareness along with growing broadband access have pushed the consumer to shift to self  care methods like subscribing to health related web content providers, online second opinions & search for doctors & hospitals reviews. This potentially alters the decision making of the consumer seeking healthcare services. This is where the PHR plays a major role as it facilitates and empowers the consumer to store, manage & share their health data & to access the services from various providers.

As time goes we will see that how PHR will reach its full potential and becomes a way of life.


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