Personal Health Record
A Personal Health Records is an electronic copy of all of your personal healthcare records. A Personal Health Record (PHR) is a collection of all of your records from each healthcare visit you have had. Your PHR will contain all of you data for a doctor to use to better diagnose you based on your history. You PHR was previously kept in a paper format that was kept in file folders at your doctors office. since technology has improved it become more efficient to keep all of your healthcare record in an electronic format. An ideal PHR would provide a complete and accurate summary of the health and medical records of the individual by gathering data from many sources and making this information accessible online to anyone who has the necessary credentials to view the information.

Who Offers PHRs
PHRs are often offered by providers, health plans, and private companies. One can find PHRs that are free, but there are some that charges do apply. Some independent companies might even have services to maintain the PHR.

Things to Think About When Choosing a PHR
  • What kind of information can be stored?
  • Can medical information/claims be imported from health plan/doctor?
  • Ability to print list of condition or medications?
  • Can other trusted parties look at PHR?
  • Does it offer other helpful information about health
  • Is there a monthly or annual fee?
  • What happens to the information if PHR compnay goes out of business or merges with another company?
  • What are the Security and Privacy Policies?

Paper-based PHRs

Personal health information is recorded and stored in paper format. This could include printed lab reports, copies of clinic notes, and health histories created by the individual. These paper copies can be scanned or converted to an electronic version for easier access.

Paper-based PHRs seem to be more common than the electornic version. This is probably because paper has been the standard for a long time and it was very cost efficient and was easily accessible without a computer. After seeing a doctor, one can request a copy of their personal records. Most likely, the client has to sign a consent-to-release form, before the records are given to the clients. Paper-based PHRs are no longer cost efficient, in a natural disaster it is not accessible from a PC-based, Internet-based, or mobile-based PHR. Paper-based PHRs are making a transition to Internet-based or PC-based PHRs.

PC-based PHRs
Personal health information is recorded and stored in a personal computer-based software that may have the capability to print, backup, encrypt, and import data from other sources such as a hospital laboratory. The most basic form of a PC based PHR would be a health history created in a software program.
PHR software can provide more sophisticated features such as data encryption, and data sharing with health care providers. Some PHR products allow the copying of health records to a mass-storage device such as a CD-ROM, DVD, Smart Card, or USB flash drive.

PC-based PHRs are subject to physical loss and damage of the personal computer and the data that it contains, but if properly stored it can be access from a cloud storage system.

Internet-based PHRs
Interent-based PHRs allow health information to be accessed and edited with a Web browser. They have the advantage of being acessible from any location with an Internet connection with a suitable Web browser. By using the internet, the PHR is enabled to be interactive, and to evolve with medical literature and the medical history of the patient and his or her family. While some Internet based serve primarily as a ubiquitously accessible repository, others attempt to become the primary personal medical resource with up to date medical information.

The data in an Internet-based PHR is stored on a remote server, i.e. not on the users local machine. This implies that the data is generally more available and more likely to have robust backup procedures protecting the data. Because more health data is stored it makes it a more attractive target for unauthorized access.

Many Americans are against Internet-based PHRs. The reason they are against it is because they are not comfortable with having their PHRs online. If they fall in the wrong hands, they can compromise my security. The uttermost amount of security will be used with Internet-based PHRs.

Mobile SmartPhone-based PHRs

Mobile Personal health information is recorded and stored in personal mobile Smart Phone-based application that may have the capability to print, backup, encrypt, and import data from other sources such as laboratory, clinic's Electronic Health Record or Web based PHRs. Health history such as medications, immunizations and allergies may be stored in the application.

Examples of services that offer a mobile PHR solution in combination with an internet based profiles or platforms are World Medical Card and AlertHey.

Portable-Storage PHRs

Persoanl health information is recorded and stored on a portable-storage device such as a CDROM, DVD, smart card, USB flash drive or SmartPhones, such as the iPhone or Android Phone. Some portable-storage PHRs provide features such as history editing, data encryption, data importation, and data sharing with health care providers.

Portable-storage PHRs are subject to physical loss and damage of the storage device. One of the disadvantages of portable-storage PHRs is that many computers at physician offices and hospitals cannot read and update these PHRs. However, the new generation portable personal health record manager can be used as a free standing application without the need for specialized software.

One example of a portable-storage PHR is the LifeGuard30 device.

In the case of an elderly person or someone traveling in another country can use this, in emergency situations. If you get ill, you can use a Portable-Storage PHR to show a doctor in a foreign country etc. Once again, this raised the issue of security.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:
Medical Record
Electronic Health Record
Patient Portal