Benefits of Personal Health Records

Gone are the days when people used to carry their health records in unwieldy files when visiting a doctor. The advances in technology made it is possible to carry the entire documents in pocket-sized devices like CD-ROMs, pen drives and now on dedicated websites who take the responsibility of saving and updating medical data. To keep a track of our medical history and share and use it when necessary, we need to create a personal health record. Let us try to understand what it is exactly and what it can do for us and how can they make our life easy.

A personal health record is the consolidated information related to health; stored and managed by an individual. Today, they are also popularly known as, personal health diary, patient health record, or personal medical records. While the concept of this type of records is not new, it has evolved from a stage when these records were stored by the medical professionals and health care providers; to a stage where each person today is keeping their health records by using various technologies such as websites, personal health software and so on. The primary purpose of these is:

o To keep a track on personal health and

o To help the doctors for providing better care through the valuable health information.

Ideally, it should contain every single bit of information related to your health. The information stored in it may differ according to the software or service providers, but any personal health records will contain the crucial health information. Some of the most common parameters that a personal health record contains are as follows:

o Name of the patient, birth date, blood type

o Date of last physical tests or screenings

o Major illnesses or diseases occurred in past with dates

o List of medicines and dosages taken by you

o Allergies and chronic diseases

o History of illnesses in your family

This piece of information can be very important in case of emergencies and can save your life.

Personal health records have numerous benefits not only to the users but also to the health care systems and physicians. A detailed health record can be used by physicians to take important decisions in time of emergencies. Some of the significant benefits of personal health records are as follows:

o Empowering patients: personal health record allows the patients to access, update and verify their own medical records. With the use of personal health records, one can also set reminders for health maintenance services.

o Improves patient-doctors relationship: this is especially true when you have a family doctor or a physician to whom you frequently visits. Doctors find it easy to communicate with patients who own personal health records.

o Improves patient’s safety: As the patient keeps updating their health records, it helps them to identify missed procedures and services, drug alerts, and important test results.

o Delivers efficient care: personal health records also avoid duplicative testing and unwanted or unnecessary services.

o Cost-effective tool: patients can save huge amounts which are otherwise spent unnecessary on malpractice costs.

o Privacy: personal health records can be kept confidential by using passwords. Today, most of us want our health records to be safe and secure in our hands so that no one misuses it. It allow patients to keep their health documents safe and secured.

Perspectives on Personal Health Record and Their Maintenance for Your Better Health

Most people do not carry medical records when they leave home. They do not realize that in an emergency, which no one can predict, these medical records can make a big difference. In fact, they could save a life. Previous medications, history of allergy to medications, and other significant medical or surgical history can help a physician to optimize treatment. The National Health Council recommends you to keep a personal health record and take it with you to your doctor. It’s one thing to document your medical information it’s another to know when and how to use it.

The main components of a Good personal health record are:

* Your name, birth date, blood type and emergency contact

* Date of last physical

* Dates and results of tests and screenings

* Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates

* A list of your medicines, dosages and how long you’ve taken them

* Any allergies

* Any chronic diseases

* Any history of illnesses in your family

Personal health records in paper based format have been used since the beginning of modern health care services. These have several disadvantages as they cannot be accessed rapidly during emergency, difficulties in sharing of these records, security and vulnerable to physical destruction as shown in recent Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005. These records are also difficult to carry around for the individual when migrating to another medical center or health care provider.

Although there are different methods to record one’s personal health, Portable Digital Personal Health Record Storage medias are popular since they offer the advantage to Individuals to enable them maintain their health information at their own computer hard drive or other storage devices. Moreover, these could be made easily accessible to any health care provider by the individual who controls the data.

Electronic management of personal health records were developed in the last 2 decades by several electronic health software vendors. Rapid growth in this sector was noticed during the dot-com bubble era.Today, with the growth of Web 2.0 in the internet, there is renewed interest in Personal health records in electronic format. Many still have confusion about Personal health records (PHR) and Electronic health records (EMR).PHRs are different. EMRs or electronic medical records are developed in Hospitals and medical centers, these legal health records are created and stored in health care settings and patients have no control over these records. They contain the longitudinal medical information of any patient over a period of time. A fully functioning EMR is described as one that includes a clinical data repository, controlled medical vocabulary, computerized provider order entry, clinical documentation or charting, pharmacy management, electronic medication administration record, major ancillary systems (for example, laboratory, diagnostic imaging, cardiology, and so on.) and picture archive and communication systems (PACS).

However, PHRs or Personal health records are created by the individuals and patients can have full control over these records. These can contain in addition to medical illness information, health related information. The models are shrink wrapped unlike the EMRs.They could also include complete demographics of the patient along with essential health insurance details. In addition they could also include record of illness over a period of time.

Personal health records have a useful role to play in health care management. Adopting technologies in health care will significantly reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of health care delivery. Over prescription of medications, duplication of tests and lack of sharing of medical information among health care service providers has resulted in increased cost of health care in the current era.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information. If you are unsure about your medical condition, consult a physician.

Ms. Catherine Collins has spent nearly a decade in writing about health care topics. She has published her work on health care management in several leading publications in online media. Her vision is to help people to take care of their health with aid of current technologies.

Personal Health Records Simplified

Health record management is a complex and privacy-protected part of our lives that begs for simplicity and relevancy. Personal health record management aficionados subscribe to the notion that we should each invade a cloud site or create a data base management system that parallels and perhaps supersedes the prerogatives of record keeping of health care providers themselves.

The dilemma of health record management is multifaceted. It is dominated by a perspective that we should maintain records of our own medical history. However, although there is a presumption of ownership of our own medical information, access to propriety information may not be available under all circumstances. Often, physicians and health care administrators may have inserted sensitive comments and evaluative information into personal medical records that may be held as proprietary to the corporate entity for which they work and therefore, not available to the patient or family member. The outcome of this inability to retrieve parallel personal information creates an incomplete view of our medical status and history.

The personal health record industry arises from the foibles of medical mishaps, misinformation, and errors that have occurred over many years. These adverse circumstances serve as one of the catalysts for creating a parallel environment of record retention. Technology and technical infrastructure also now exist that allows access to previously unreachable data and as a result, record keeping of all stripes is now more readily available than ever before. The dilemma for all of us, however, is to how best to use technology and the information it can provide to support a healthy life.

Personal record keeping software that is comprehensive in design and simple to use is an optimal answer to assisting with improved health care management. The need to record fundamental information such as the names and contact numbers of physicians and other healthcare providers is basic but essential. Recording of allergies to food, medicines, and environmental stimuli can be life saving. Identifying key resources and providing emergency contact information for them can provide invaluable insight in the midst of a medical crisis. Insurance, legal and financial contact data becomes vital in a medical emergency to ensure all aspects of need can be met. The knowledge of usernames and passwords provides the means by which accounts can be known and accessed to support patient needs.

Personal information software also may include the ability to profile more than one person. It should be safe to use and free from the potential for intrusion from an external source. Reports that can be printed and carried to a medical office to use as a reference can be an invaluable tool. Specialized reports that include information that is relevant and important for emergency medical personal can save a life. The names of hospitals and care facilities that maintain update to date personal health record information ensures that all aspects of a persona life are never lost.

Personal health records can best be viewed from the standpoint of whether they lead to a positive outcome when we must act on our own behalf or when someone must act for us. Stick with the fundamentals. Gather the information and document it in a well designed personal information software package so that nothing gets lost.

Avoid Allergy Emergencies With a Personal Health Record

Allergies are disorders that result from a heightened response of the immune system against specific substances, foods, drugs, animal hairs, pollens, mites… etc that are named “allergens”. The immune system of an individual with an allergy considers these allergens foreign bodies that have to be attacked and eliminated.

There are many types of allergies that include nose allergy (allergic rhinitis), skin allergy (contact dermatitis), bronchial asthma, food allergies and hypersensitivity reactions to various pharmaceutical agents. The manifestations of an allergy are rather variable as sometimes it passes unnoticed; nevertheless, allergic reactions can be life threatening in some instances.

People suffering from an allergy can complain of a wide array of symptoms. Sneezing, itching and redness of the nose are common in individuals with nasal allergy, while a skin allergy is usually accompanied by a rash and itching. Bronchial asthma is manifested by coughing, chest tightness, wheezing and bluish discoloration of the lips (cyanosis) in severe cases.

Whatever the cause, then allergy can lead to shock and death in a percentage of affected people, especially when there is repeated exposure to the allergens to which the person is sensitive. In cases of a severe allergy, the person’s immune system is highly sensitized against specific allergen(s) which leads to the release of several chemical substances that aid in the destruction and elimination of the incriminated allergen(s). These mediators may also lead to a lowering of blood pressure to dangerous levels causing what is referred to as “shock”. Low blood pressure levels decrease the blood flow to the brain and other body tissues which may lead to life-threatening situations.

Despite the fact that an allergy can be fatal in some cases, almost all of its manifestations can be avoided with prevention of exposure to the incriminated allergens. People with specific forms of bronchial asthma can live for years without reporting an attack, when exposure to the relevant allergen(s) is avoided. Some people are sensitive to one allergen, on the other hand a considerable number of people with an allergy are sensitive to many allergens which render their elimination from the person’s environment almost impossible.

A person with an allergy should always keep a record of substances, foods, animals, plants, etc to which they are sensitive. Occasionally, the list of allergens is changeable i.e. sensitivity to different allergens increases or decreases; hence, close monitoring of the person’s sensitivity is indispensable. A personal health record can be life saving for people with allergies. For instance, if someone who is allergic to a specific drug experiences an accident that was to render them unconscious, then to have their personal health record with them could well be life-saving by assisting health/medical providers with valuable information.

People with an allergy sometimes undergo a form of skin patch test to determine the allergens to which they are sensitive. A thorough clinical history should be obtained before skin patch testing to identify potential allergens and the substances that should be used during the testing procedure. A person with a skin allergy should include all the allergens to which the test has found them sensitive in a personal health record that should be always with them just like an ID or a driver’s license is.

Although most people with bronchial asthma fail to show sensitivity against specific allergens during skin patch testing, observation and close follow up can help identify triggering allergens or environmental conditions in many cases. Accordingly, a personal health record is crucial for individuals suffering from bronchial asthma, especially during childhood as the sensitivity to various allergens varies markedly with age.

Hypo-sensitization refers to a line of treatment of allergic disorders in both children and adults. The treatment aims at decreasing the sensitivity of the person’s immune system towards incriminated allergens. This is achieved via injection of incremental doses of specific allergens to reduce the response against them in the person’s body. A personal health record is pivotal if hypo-sensitization is planned to be performed at a point or another during the course of the disease as it helps in the determination of the allergens to which the person’s sensitivity should be reduced. Moreover, a personal health record will identify allergens that induce severe manifestations and should be prioritized during hypo-sensitization.

Although nowadays electronic health records or online health records are a popular way of keeping a person’s vital data and their personal health record these records are not yet universalized or readily available at the point of required emergency treatment.

Personal Health Record

It’s the age of active participation in your own health care. Comprehensive new systems are evolving to help you create a personal health record in the cloud. But, are you organized at home to maintain the rest of the personal records you need for long term well-being? Probably not, if you are like most people. For example, where’s your prescription plan? Who are your specialists? If you are in a caregiving situation, who do you call in an emergency? There’s a lot more to managing your own health care than hosted medical records.

The place to start managing your health care is at home. The first step is to get organized. Get all your important health care related information together in one place so you can find it when you need it. Personal record keeping software can help. It gives you an organizing framework. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. Anyone with a home computer can store and manage their personal health records along with those of their family. But, you can also enter the rest of your vital information such as financial, legal, insurance, retirement, pension, caregiving, living and end of life wishes to complete your personal health record. That’s something you can’t do with the new hosted medical record systems coming online. And, if you are worried about privacy and security, no internet connection is required. The information is stored at home, on your computer. No one but you, or your authorized designee, can access it. If you are in a home caregiving situation, you can support your caregiver with access to the information so he or she can have it at their fingertips for those times when a decision is called for on-the-spot. That one feature alone can relieve a lot of the stress for everyone in the caregiving network, including the person being cared for. You can help them live the life they are used to if you know what to do.

Store the vital information you need at home, at home, on your personal computer. Record keeping software gives you an easy to use, inexpensive tool that supports the storage of essential health documentation, the sharing of medical information with authorized family members, loved ones, caregivers and powers of attorney in case you are unable to act on your own behalf, the consolidation of healthcare information for family members so you don’t have separate files for each one, and the integration of other important documents and information relevant to your long-term well-being that can’t be recorded in hosted systems.

You purchase record keeping software only once. There are no ongoing monthly subscription fees that can really add up over time. The bottom line? Personal record keeping software stores and creates access to health care information at home, on your computer, without connection to the internet and remembers where everything is so you can find it when you need it.