PHR Content: You can never be too thin, too rich, or have too much health information
The first question that comes to mind for healthcare consumers who are new to electronic PHR is “How much information should I collect?” The short answer is “all of it.” There are simply no good reasons to limit the amount and types of your medical and health information you collect and store in an electronic PHR. (For the sake of brevity, let’s assume from now on that when I say “PHR” I refer only to electronic systems and services.) In brief, more is better. And moreover, having less information is not only less useful, but actually more dangerous than having none at all. Although it may seem counterintuitive to take such an all-or-nothing approach, it’s really sound medical advice. And, it’s also why, when choosing a PHR service, consumers should only consider those that offer and support the collection and storage of the full spectrum of medical data, without limitations on the amount of data collected and stored. That is, they should only consider complete and comprehensive services like AlwaysMed.com. Let’s explore this reasoning.
As you might expect, current PHR services vary enormously in the amount and types of information they allow consumers to collect. Some only allow you to collect a few basic pieces of information, like:
· Personal and emergency contact information for you and (maybe) your family
· Contact information for your current physician (or maybe a few)
· Chronic illnesses (if you can describe them adequately)
· Prescription medications (if you can remember them all)
Few services (and fewer smartphone and computer apps) provide any support for collecting actual medical records or assist you in doing so. Here are just a few examples of the types of vital medical information that a comprehensive PHR ought to contain:
· Contact information for all treating physicians and caregivers
· Advance directives (e.g., medical proxies and DNR orders)
· Detailed physician records
· Medical records from hospital visits
· Laboratory test results
· Diagnostic images and test results
· Complete prescription records, including the medical conditions to which they apply
· Immunization records
· Over-the-counter drug and nutraceutical use
· Travel destinations
Fortunately, AlwaysMed.com helps you collect all of that and more. You see, it’s your medical records, more than what you can remember and explain by yourself, that can spell the difference between getting proper medical care or not. It can even mean the difference between life and death. Here are a couple of likely scenarios to illustrate my point.
In emergency situations, such as automobile accidents, fires, on-the-job injuries, injuries resulting from a crime, or in cases of heart attack or stroke (to name only a few examples), both time and information are critical to positive outcomes (that is, survival). Patients may be (and frequently are) unable to speak for themselves. And, knowledgeable relatives or friends may be unavailable. In these circumstances a PHR may be the only medical record available to first responders and clinicians. Only if a PHR is complete and comprehensive will caregivers have the information to immediately know what medical procedures or interventions should or should not be given. A PHR (if it is complete and comprehensive) will allow clinicians to access information without requiring prior consent from the patient, which can save time and lives.
Comprehensive PHR information can be vital during natural disasters, as well. During Hurricane Sandy, scores of hospitals in and around New York City were forced to close and evacuate patients due to flooding and power failures. Of the thousands of patients who were moved, with the greatest speed possible, from one hospital to another, how many were able to take their medical information with them? How many patients were forced to leave their medical records behind in flooded file rooms or in computer systems that had to be shut down? How was the quality of medical care compromised because medical information could not easily and securely travel with the patients?
In the aftermath of a fire, flood or natural disaster, just as in the medical emergencies described above, a PHR may be the only medical record available to patients, their designated caregivers and clinicians. A complete and comprehensive PHR, like AlwaysMed.com, makes the transfer of all of your vital medical information as easy as carrying a USB memory card, using a smartphone app, or using any Internet-connected computer to access information stored in our secure data Vault.
However, if only a partial record of your medical information is available, clinicians and caregivers can be denied a clear and complete picture of your medical status. Unfortunate, costly, harmful, or even deadly decisions can result. Whereas a clinician presented with no background information at all is forced to rely on direct observation, differential diagnosis, and thorough testing, all of which are medically appropriate, but take precious time.
So, the availability of a PHR can help clinicians coordinate and improve care by making extensive patient data available to them. It can also help reduce medical information errors and eliminate duplicate medical tests or procedures by consolidating data in one easily accessible location. Finally, having a PHR can provide peace of mind from knowing the ability exists to reconstruct medical records electronically should paper medical records and documents be damaged or destroyed. However, these benefits can only be gained if the information in the PHR is complete and comprehensive.
Health Information Management: A New Profession
In my previous Blog post, I introduced the concept of electronic personal health record (PHR) technology and tried to convey its importance to both patients and providers in our rapidly changing healthcare environment. In this post, I want to introduce Health Information Management (HIM) and the central role health information technicians will play as both guardians of our private health data and as information liaisons between providers and patients.
According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 120,000 people will be employed as Medical Records and Health Information Technicians by 2020. That’s an increase of 21% over 2010 levels, which is faster than the average rate for all occupations.
Health information technicians play a key role in awareness, advocacy and education for consumers involving the management of personal health information, wherever it resides. They can and should encourage patients to use electronic personal health records so they can take a more active role in monitoring their health and in their healthcare decision making. They provide hospitals, diagnostic centers, and physicians with expertise concerning the use of information, acquisition, storage, exchange methods and tools.
Perhaps most important, HIM technicians determine how to apply privacy and security guidelines to medical information, including information available via PHRs. It’s their job to draw the line between the personal health record and the facility or provider healthcare record. That line will become more blurry as the healthcare industry moves toward a national health information network and the interoperability of records between providers and patients raises questions about custodianship. And, as more and more healthcare delivery organizations and health plans implement Web-based personal health portals for patient use, that question of custodianship, or who is responsible, accountable, and liable for patient information, will need to be resolved without jeopardizing patient safety or privacy.
A Century of Progress
Medical recordkeeping had its origins about 100 years ago. But, until recently, patients’ relationship with those records has been distant, at best. It was certainly never personal. Now that medical records have entered the electronic age, however, patients finally have the opportunity to hold and control their own medical information and history. The concept is called PHR, for Personal Health Records.
In a post from Sep. 10, 2012 by American Health Information Management Association
"Health information management (HIM) professionals from around the globe will convene in Chicago for presentations, educational sessions and lively discussions surrounding emerging issues in the industry at the 84th American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) Convention and Exhibit Sept. 29 – Oct. 4 at McCormick Place.
In a post from September 5, 2012 byTeresak, on Nanahood.com about you AlwaysMed can be beneficial
"What if you needed access to your medical records and couldn’t get them quickly enough? My grandmother would say, “You are up the creek without a paddle,” but you don’t have to be!
In a post from August 30, 2012 by Rosie Mestel on Los Angeles Times, writes about a new study on calorie intake and it's relation to life span. Posted on August 30, 2012:
"A study finds that monkeys whose calories were restricted to 30% below normal did not live longer. But calorie-restricted monkeys avoided cancer and looked younger than the animals who ate freely.
Health Reform Needs to Become Personal
By Joe E. Dib, MD, FACP, FACEP, FAAEM
One of the fundamental pillars of the new healthcare reform act (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) is the expansion of electronic health records. The Act went so far as to partially subsidize the cost of conversion of paper records into electronic form. This has fueled something of an explosion in companies developing and providing online personal healthcare records (PHR) services and systems to patients and doctors alike.
New York City, June 12, 2012 – AlwaysMed, Corp. announced today the launch of AlwaysMed.com, its electronic personal health records (PHR) portal and medical vault. Now, the promise of truly secure and portable electronic health information has become a reality.