After Dad suffered a series of medical problems, I dropped abruptly into the role of providing accurate information to healthcare providers. Those were scary times with major decisions to make. Unfortunately, I knew very little about Dad’s health issues, medical insurance, and doctors. I scrambled for information through crisis after crisis until I made up my mind to put Dad’s health information into one place – his Personal Health Record.
What is a Personal Health Record?
A Personal Health Record (PHR) is a system you create to manage health information for you or your loved one. A PHR can be a paper based system or you can use a computer based digital system. The paper method is low cost, reliable, and accessible without the need for a computer or any other hardware. A digital system is easy to update. You can carry your PHR with you on a USB drive and print out copies for healthcare providers.
What information should be in a PHR?
To have the information you need for a variety of medical circumstances your PHR should have the following information:
- Personal information – name, address, phone, email, social security number
- Insurance and provider information – include phone numbers and addresses
- Information for emergency contacts
- Current Conditions – condition, date diagnosed, treating doctor
- Current Medications – name of the medication, dose, frequency
- Pertinent Test Results – test, date, results, purpose, measurer
- Immunization history
- Surgical History
- Current Health Risks and Family History
- Information on medical devices – especially implantable devices such as a pacemaker
- Living will and organ donor instructions
One of the main reasons people hesitate to create a personal health record is that they think it’s too time consuming. Starting slowly with basic personal and insurance information, and a medication list, will help almost immediately with each doctor visit or during an emergency. Then gradually add additional information as healthcare providers request it. Soon, you will have the information you need and will start seeing the benefits of all your hard work.
Benefits of a PHR
You will find your PHR helps you in many ways:
- Save time – finding the information you need in one place
- Know that important information is not forgotten
- Increase your sense of control over health
- Promote better health management by using a systematic approach to healthcare
- Avoid duplicate tests
- Support timely, appropriate preventive services
- Ease the transition when changing or consulting a new doctor
- Provide current and accurate information for doctors and the medical team so that their decisions are based on current information
- Verify the accuracy of information in provider records
- Support continuity of care across time and providers
- Improve communication so that it is easier to ask questions, to set up appointments, to request refills and referrals, and to report problems.
- Support understanding and appropriate use of medications
- Reduce adverse drug interactions and allergic reactions
- Have information to manage long distance caregiving
- Provide emergency information quickly and accurately
Creating a PHR
You can create a PHR yourself and store your information in a three-ring notebook. You might find it easier to create your lists on your computer in a word processing program like Microsoft Word. There are also a number of PHR systems available for purchase.
To see the PHR I created for my Dad, visit http://www.atmyfingertips.us.com/
How have you benefited from your PHR?