PHR (Personal Health Record): Benefits and Challenges in the Healthcare IT Sector

PHR (Personal Health Record): Benefits and Challenges in the Healthcare IT Sector
The healthcare industry includes multiple terms like Personal Healthcare Monitoring Report (PHMR) and other healthcare-related terms. Personal Health Record (PHR) is a health record where health data and other data associated with the care of a patient is managed by the patient. It is an electronic application through which patients can handle their health information in a confidential environment. 

The goal of PHR is to give an accurate summary of a patient’s medical history, which can be accessed online. The PHR might include lab results, patient-reported outcome data, and other data. 

The term was first used in 1956 and 1978. It was first applied to computerized and paper-based systems. 

People believe that PHR is similar to EHR. But this is not the case. EHR is a computer record that is managed by doctors. A Personal Health Record can be generated by physicians, pharmacies, and hospitals. It focuses on providing patients to manage their information when needed. 

In general, PHR needs anything that helps you and doctors manage your health. It includes information like doctor’s names, drug allergies, family history, dates of illness, and other dosages. 

Types of PHR

The PHR market is evolving continuously. It can be divided into two categories - those who are subject to the Privacy Rule and those who fall outside of its scope. 

1. Standalone Personal Health Records

With standalone PHRs, the patients can fill in the information. The information is stored on the internet and is accessed when needed. Later, patients can decide whether they have to share information with others or not. In some cases, the information can be downloaded from different sources. 

2. Connected Personal Health Records

A connected Personal Health Record (PHR) is associated with a specific healthcare organization system. With tethered or connected PHR, the patients can access their records through a secure portal. 

How Using a PHR Helps Patients in Managing Themselves

Having information in electronic form makes it easier for patients to access their information to share and update their records. If you are a healthcare expert or into a healthcare organization, then talk with a patient about how a PHR can help in medical care. Online PHRs can provide healthcare with valuable information in case of an emergency. If a patient's PHR includes different information from healthcare providers, it helps them in coordinating better. 

Also, people who look after their family members, like older people, spouses, and kids, find it difficult to manage their health status and track their health reports. Some PHRs also offer a secure way of communicating with patients over the internet. This is an efficient way to exchange types of information. PHRs are designed for use by patients and grant them access to a wide range of medical practices. 

Features of Personal Health Records

Electronic PHR is a secure application through which a patient can manage and share his or her health information. It can include information that is entered by the patient from other sources like pharmacies and healthcare providers. It can analyze the individual's health profile and check for improvements based on drug interaction and other medical practices. Patient illness can be traced with healthcare providers, helping in the treatment procedures. 

Sometimes, PHR includes sponsored vendors who may or may not charge a fee. Electronic PHRs are offered to patients through employers and independent vendors. PHRs can be kept electronically or via a software application on a computer through an internet-based service. With PHR, users have access to control the type of information that each person can access. Some provide an audit trail that tells the PHR owner who has the authority to access the information. 

Others guide the users through the online sources of health information and disease management process. PHR can also provide access to virtual communities through different portals. This can be useful for patients who have chronic diseases. For instance, a female having breast cancer would find it difficult to see the doctor in personnel. For her, interacting online with an expert can be a good option. Also, she can be interested in interacting with other women to discuss treatment options. 

Advantages of PHR in the Healthcare Sector

Indeed! PHR offers several benefits to patients and healthcare professionals. For instance, it benefits clinicians and also offers patients the opportunity to submit their data to the clinicians.  

Let us look at other benefits offered by PHR in healthcare. 

1. It tracks and assesses your health. It records the progress towards the health goals and helps you in lowering cholesterol levels. 

2. It analyzes data from home-monitoring devices and reminds you of doctors' appointments. 

3. It tracks vaccination and appointments and makes your treatment organized. According to studies, when parents take PHR for their children, they are likely to get treated in a better way. 

4. It improves patient engagement by letting them access everything about their health. When patients can track their health status, it becomes easier for them to select better treatment. 

5. It promotes better health by helping patients manage information from different providers. It also ensures patient information is available online. 

6. The healthcare organization can reduce administrative costs by using a PHR with easy access to electronic prescriptions and scheduling applications. 

How PHR, EHR, and Patient Portals Differs

Personal Health Records are not the same as EHRs. EHRs contain the information you put in PHR, like a medication list and other details. It also contains extensive information used by healthcare providers to test results. 

A PHR, when linked with an EHR, is called a patient portal. In some cases, you can add information like blood pressure and other readings via a patient portal. 

EHR is similar to EMR (Electronic Medical Records). The only difference between EHR and EMR is that EHR offers much more. The EHR system includes information about patients from everywhere, like labs and physicians. The EHR allows doctors in the emergency room to access patients' details and other issues instantly. 

Patient portals allow users to access their health data via multiple apps at their convenience. Electronic prescriptions shared directly to pharmacies save patients time as the medicine is processed when patients reach the doctor's office. 

Personal Health Records might look similar to EHR. However, the patient is responsible for keeping the data up to date. The information might include critical information from doctors and family history. PHR includes the information that is entered by users themselves. The information can be gathered and managed by patients. 

Challenges of PHR in the Healthcare

Creating and maintaining a complete health record is time-consuming. First, you have to find the data and then enter all the health information. A few pharmacies and healthcare organizations send information to PHR that isn’t a part of a patient portal. 

In the majority of cases, the user has to update the PHR manually and to fill the prescription. Even after using the patient portal, you have to review the information that is needed. 

Also, people are concerned about security and privacy when using PHR. But reputed PHRs keep the data secure and safe from hackers. Here are other limitations of PHR in the healthcare sector. 

Final Words

The PHR can benefit you in several ways. In an emergency, you can access important information like medications, the diseases you are treated for, and the doctor’s contact.

So, what type of healthcare system should you choose? If your healthcare sector provides special healthcare services like dentistry, then go for EHR. In the case of a medical facility that provides seamless transactions of records, EHR should be the choice. 

Alternatively, if the healthcare organization puts patients at priority, and there is a need to track patients' progress, then go for PHR. Now, as you know which healthcare system is best for your organization, choose it wisely. 
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