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Personal Health Ownership
Monday, March 14, 2011 | Dr. Carrie Nelson
Getting yourself a Personal Health Record is an important step along the way to Dr. Carrie's holy grail...Personal Health Ownership.

I was having a conversation with my mom recently and she spoke of some of the challenges she's had with making sure her doctors have all the information about her health. Even when they've been given such information or went through a medical episode with her, she noted "they don't remember". Guilty here! I admit that my own memory is imperfect regardless of how special the relationship or what shared history I have with a patient.

The traditional paper medical record is especially notorious for failing to be helpful in such situations. And, I've yet to personally experience the electronic medical record that nicely captures a patient's complete medical story at a glance. Until we have a fully interoperable electronic information network, and alas, probably not even then, you will find your medical team at risk of functioning with incomplete information in caring for you.

AND...YOU are the only one who can help to bridge that gap- both today and (I have to believe) even in the future. Your medical information lives in various places - you move, you go to different doctors and hospitals, you travel and have a medical happening while visiting Aunt Edna. Or... more commonly, Aunt Edna has a medical happening while visiting you.

You can and truly must help - both yourself and Aunt Edna. Here's a pretty simple way how. Get yourself and your loved ones a Personal Health Record (PHR). Here's a definition of a PHR according to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

The personal health record (PHR) is an electronic, universally available, 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 is separate from and does not replace the legal record of any provider.

Your health insurance company may offer a PHR and some employers do as well. These are good options. Just make sure you take the information with you when you change insurance or jobs. You'll probably have to transfer it to another PHR. PHRs can also be purchased but many are available for free to you right now!

For a comprehensive list of considerations, see this great resource from AHIMA. In fact AHIMA has done a lot of work to assemble the PHR options all in one place. Go to this website to scan the numerous options, or choose from one of my favorites listed below. Now I put some work into this for you. I went through all the options listed on the AHIMA website and entered my email address - big sacrifice just for you - considering all the spam I'm sure to get as a result! You can thank me by telling all your friends to follow my blog and like me on Facebook. :)

So, here are my personal suggestions for a free PHR with which you can get started right away:

myHealthFolders - This one is my personal favorite. You can enter reminders for yourself like "get a mammogram", "take your medicine" and have the system call you with the reminder. You can even choose a male or female voice! The only challenge I had was with entering a medical procedure. Even though I know the medical terminology, it took me a while to find the right term for an upper endoscopy. I wound up having to enter "esophago" which took me to 91 matches, finding esophagogastroduodenoscopy. I don't know how many non-medical types would have gotten there. I really liked that when I entered my doctor's name along with the city and state it resulted in a search that accurately entered her address and phone right into my record.

Google Health - Google is good at so many things. This PHR is pretty good although the look and feel seem like it's in beta to me. Not as slick as myHealthFolders.

Doclopedia - Not bad. Again, didn't quite match up to myHealthFolders but pretty user friendly and without excessive layers before you could start entering information.

Get one of these personal health records for you and your loved ones. You can also just keep track in a word document or on paper - just make sure you keep it continuously updated and share it with all your healthcare providers. Take a look at all the reasons you should do this now!

Dr. Carrie Nelson is a family physician, mother of three young men and developer of Doctor Carrie's Better Living Snacks. Visit her blog or Facebook page for more information.

The content and links above represent the author's opinions and do not represent endorsement by AHIMA.

Tags   caregivers, family, phr, parents

About This Blog

Parents, welcome to the PHR blog where you can connect and communicate with health information management professionals and eventually other parents about managing your child’s healthcare. Have you ever been on your way to the doctor’s office with your child and wondered about the details – diagnosis, medications prescribed, vaccinations, etc. – of your last visit?

As a parent, you have so many responsibilities that it’s difficult to recall everything from day to day let alone last year. A personal health record can help ease your mind. This blog is a social network where you can interact with experts in the field to seek advice and tips for best practices in creating and maintaining your child’s personal health record and the best ways to use that information to play a more active role in their healthcare and simplify your life.

Blog Contributors

Marsha Dolan, Valerie Watzlaf, Cindy Boester, Heidi Shaffer, Julie Wolter, Margaret Hennings, Colleen Goethals, Vera Rulon, Leah Grebner, Robert Caban, Mynilma Olivera-Vazquez, Amanda Bushey, Margie Kelly, Donna DuLong, Sarah Dietze, Valisha McFarlane, Maria Kovell, Ted Eytan, Leann Reynolds, Laura Heuer, Kristin Stewart, Derek Allen, Chris Matthies, Margo Corbett, Craig Newmark, Sarah Buelterman, Skyler Tanner, Aniruddha Malpani, Joan Malling, Marilyn McFarlane, Megan Rooney, Patrick Rhone, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Maria Bouselli, Erin Jordan


PHRs do more than manage medication. Stay up to date with information that can help you communicate with your doctor and stay out of the hospital.

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