Personal Health Records and Patient Support Issues

Summary

Today’s modernized world developed many interesting technologies; one of them is Personal health record systems. “Over the past year, several payers, employers, and commercial vendors have announced personal health record projects.” (Halamka, et al, Early experiences with personal health records, 2008).

Some of these projects have got wide acceptance and some of them are completely related to ambulatory and hospital-oriented information record systems. The real definition and reliability of PHRs are evolving and strengthening day by day. Database of the patients is maintained in various ways. Some are like manual entry by patients themselves. Another mode of updating records is providing access to the electronic health records (EHRs) of physician-web patient portals. All of these systems ensure the patients an effective and efficient way of access to information about their own healthcare data.

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Previously the patients’ healthcare records were maintained in hospitals and healthcare providers’ offices. This mode of keeping records resulted in difficulties for the patients as most of them were not electronically maintained or updated. With the formulation of EHRs and nationwide health information networks (NHIN), patients’ thirst to access their data online increased. But these systems raised many queries about Information Sharing, Patients’ Authentication and Privacy Protection. In this web-savvy world, health information sites are also popular and they grabbed everyone’s attention. People even try to gather information from unknown sites. But PHR and EHR developers are engaged in designing web tools that can directly link patients with physicians. They have achieved their goal to some extent. Some of the most important medical services organizations like MyChart, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)had first implemented PHR services for the patients. MyChart developed PHR through vendor through which the patients get full information about their diagnoses, active medications, allergies, health maintenance schedules, immunizations, test results in the form of graphical representations, radiology results, appointments, and demographics.

The developers of PHRs should know the various precautionary measures to be taken before implementing PHRs. The measures are like which data are to be shown to patients, what kind of access privileges are to be given and what kind of responses are to be given on patients’ queries, what appropriate notes are to be given to concerned patients, etc.

Authentication to Access the PHR

Regarding the Access Authentication process, no system has been developed at the national level. But the existing organizations who implemented PHRs have themselves provided usernames and passwords to the patients. “PAMF uses in person (face to face) authentication or verification of a written signature with the registration signature on file to authenticate the user.” (Halamka, et al, Challenge #5: How should patients be authenticated to access the phr? 2008). Nowadays different types of authentication access processes are being used by many organizations. Some implement multiple authentication processes for accessing.

PHRs allow modified interaction utilities like chatting facilities to the patients, those suffering from chronic diseases, with other patients and families to share their experiences, therapies they use and other guidance. Hence patients make a kind of online community with the help of PHRs and exchange their experiences and specific health information to others.

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In the future, the PHR utility will show a significant path for patients’ interaction and their consolation. It also provides a facility to exchange data of similar kinds of patients from one health care organization to other. It also ensures the confidentiality and correctness of patients’ individual information. Till now over 35000 patients availed the facility of PHRs and the number is still growing. (Lohr, 2007; Stahl, 2007).

References

Halamka, John D. et al. (2008). Abstract: Early experiences with personal health records. JAMIA: The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 15(1), 1-7. Web.

Halamka, John D. et al. (2008). Challenge #5: How should patients be authenticated to access the phr? Early experiences with personal health records. JAMIA: The Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 15(1), 1-7. Web.

Lohr, Steve. (2007). Microsoft rolls out personal health records: Technology. The New York Times.

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Stahl, Linda. (2007). The (Louisville) courier-journal: Technology helps patients take charge of health records. USA Today.

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