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The Personal Health Records of Today

A reflection on personal health records (PHRs) and patient portals

A PHR is an online record that contains a patient’s health information and is accessed, edited and maintained by the owner of the information (patient). The VA maintains PHRs that offer veterans a flexible and scalable platform to maintain their health information on the internet (Schneider, 2010). Patient portals are specific pages on a website that allow patients to enter and store their health information (Reti, Feldman, Ross & Safran, 2010; Schneider, 2010; Hannah et al., 2011).

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My experience with PHRs and patient portals

As a nurse, I have interacted with patients using PHRs. If a patient cannot access his or her PHR due to his or her medical condition, he or she allows nurses in our setting to access the stored health information to act as a guide to the best care. We use patient PHRs to view laboratory results, medications used in the past and any other useful information.

Benefits, concerns and challenges

A PHR is a crucial online health information storage platform that allows individuals to limit the persons who may access their private health information. The online records make it possible for individuals to control the amount of information that other people could access. Another advantage of PHRs is that the records facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare of a person by allowing different healthcare providers to access a patient’s data (Reti et al., 2010; Schneider, 2010). However, PHRs are faced with the challenge of unwanted access to a person’s health information in case the password is accessed by unauthorized persons. A PHR system is very expensive to install within a healthcare organization, and this limits the usage of the technology. In addition, there are concerns that the law does not stipulate the punishment that a person would face when he or she uses another person’s PHR unlawfully (Wagner, Howard, Bentley, Seol & Sodomka, 2010; Schneider, 2010).

A patient portal

FollowMyHealth is a patient portal that offers patients an avenue to maintain their health information on the internet. The portal engages patients and facilitates patient care by improving workflows. The portal also allows patients to schedule medical appointments and view laboratory results.

Information to put in PHR

I would include the following information in a PHR: name, age, marital status, residence, phone number, last medical check-up, next medical appointment, medical history, personal physician, and previous health conditions of concern. I would have security concerns in using a PHR to maintain my personal health information. If anyone would access my PHR without my knowledge, then my personal information might be used for other reasons other than to promote my healthcare outcomes (Schneider, 2010).

A position for mandating PHRs

I agree these systems should become a mandate for all persons because they facilitate patient care by allowing easier retrieval of health information. Individuals might

be motivated to maintain PHRs by enhanced security features. The enhanced security features would make persons confident that their personal information would not be accessed by unauthorized persons (Schneider, 2010). Several factors may deter persons from signing up for this service. For example, lack of proper sensitization on the importance of PHRs may make many patients not sign up for the service. Lack of information technology (IT) knowledge would imply that persons would not utilize healthcare technology. My patients and I would have concerns regarding security features of the service. The concerns would result from the fact that there has been an increase in cybercrime cases across the world. Therefore, personal information might be accessed for cybercrime purposes. The use PHRs has the potential to positively impact my professional practice and care outcomes of my patients. If I am able to share my patients’ data with other care providers, then I would be able to offer the best care that would greatly improve patient care. In addition, I would be professionally satisfied for offer my patients the best care that results in positive outcomes.

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Hannah, K. J., DuLong, D., Newbold, S. K., Sensmeier, J. E., Skiba, D. J., Troseth, M. R.,… & Douglas, J. V. (Eds.). (2011). Nursing informatics: Where technology and caring meet. New York, NY: Springer.

Reti, S. R., Feldman, H. J., Ross, S. E., & Safran, C. (2010). Improving personal health records for patient-centered care. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 17(2), 192–195.

Schneider, J. M. (2010). Electronic and personal health records: VA’s key to patient safety. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, 14(1), 12–22.

Wagner, P. J., Howard, S. M., Bentley, D. R., Seol, Y., & Sodomka, P. (2010). Incorporating patient perspectives into the personal health record: Implications for care and caring. Perspectives in Health Information Management, 7(1), 1–12.

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