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A personal health record (PHR) is
|“||[a]n electronic record of health information that is maintained, controlled, and shared by a patient-consumer.||”|
PHRs may contain excerpts or summaries of physician records generated from clinical encounters, claims data, lab and imaging results, prescription information, and (importantly) patient-entered data. Some PHRs, such as those offered by Dossia, Google, and Microsoft are available via the web, while others are software packages that allow consumers to store and maintain data on personal computers, mobile phones, or other digital devices. PHRs can include functions such as decisions support, appointment making, referral requests, medication refills, and bill paying. Patients also can contribute their own data to the PHR and can determine what data will be accessible to clinicians and others.
To date, most PHRs are not standards-based, and few support an easy way to transport records among different EHR products. However, Google and Microsoft, the two largest vendors of web-based PHRs, recently agreed on mechanisms to enable the free exchange of information between their respective PHR systems, and others may follow.
An important feature of PHRs is that they are patient-controlled and "travel with" the patient. In this sense, they represent a route to interoperability. A patient could schedule a visit with a new physician, or a specialist, and allow access to his or her PHR. PHRs can also allow increased patient involvement in their own healthcare by enabling them to input their own data, research health issues, and potentially meet and share information with patients who have similar conditions. Of course, one question about this type of technology is how much interest patients will actually have in utilizing these capabilities. They seem to have particular promise for patients with chronic conditions.
- ↑ Realizing the Full Potential of Health Information Technology to Improve Healthcare for Americans: The Path Forward, Glossary, at 88 (App. C).
- ↑ Id. at 33.