Time has arrived for the personal health record, or PHR—Isyour practice ready?

May 17, 2006

The era of the personal health record has arrived, and its usewill only grow, so you should learn now what a PHR is, what it isnot, and what impact it will have on your practice. That was theprescription offered by Kathy Giannagelo, RHIA, CCS, of theAmerican Health Information Management Association in Chicago in atalk given at the American College of Physicians Annual Session inPhiladelphia, April 6-8.

The era of the personal health record has arrived, and its use will only grow, so you should learn now what a PHR is, what it is not, and what impact it will have on your practice. That was the prescription offered by Kathy Giannagelo, RHIA, CCS, of the American Health Information Management Association in Chicago in a talk given at the American College of Physicians Annual Session in Philadelphia, April 6-8.

"Results of a recent survey show that 42% of adults in the United States keep some form of a PHR," Giannagelo said, "while 84% of those who don't currently keep one, think it would be a good idea. These statistics clearly point to the need for physicians to prepare themselves to exchange health information with their patients."

The PHR is a portable resource of health information owned and managed by the patient. It can be electronic, but is not the same as an electronic medical record, and it does not replace the providers' legal medical record. As a lifelong record for a patient, it contains information that can optimize health care decisions. What does the PHR mean for patients, parents, and physicians?

"PHRs can help avoid medication errors, avoid duplication of care, and enable monitoring of patients with chronic or multiple medical conditions," explained Giannagelo. "As parents come in with requests for data to use in their child's PHR, physicians should be mindful of what the parents want to do with the information and what format they intend to use to keep their child's PHR. In addition, they should remember that privacy concerns are foremost in their patients' minds.'

You should also be prepared for the PHR to change the dynamics of practice for you and your office staff. Anticipate spending more time reviewing the data contained in a PHR, but also more time in face-to-face discussions as patients and their parents are empowered to ask questions they may have never asked before.