Personal Health Records
There are different types of health records kept for different purposes. Records created and managed by healthcare providers are generally referred to as medical records or health records. In contrast, personal health records contain information maintained by an individual and are used to record important facts to enable better participation in the healthcare process.
Personal Health Records (PHRs) are typically electronic, and are a universally available, lifelong resource of health information needed by individuals to make health decisions. Individuals own and manage the information in the PHR, which comes from healthcare providers and the individual. The PHR is maintained in a secure and private environment, with the individual determining rights of access. The PHR is separate from and does not replace the legal health record of any provider.
Personal health records (PHRs) are an inevitable and critical step in the evolution of health information management (HIM). HIM professionals should encourage patients to take an active role in monitoring their health and in healthcare decision making through the use of PHRs.
Personal health information management involves access, integration and use of information from disparate sources to provide healthcare information about the patient. Personal health information management and the use of PHRs are important for all health professions to advocate. Healthcare delivery organizations and health plans are increasingly adding personal health portals and personal health record options for patient use. Many people receive care from a number of different providers and personal health record tools keep important data available when needed for care.
Health information management professionals have a key role in awareness, advocacy and education for consumers involving the management of personal health information wherever it resides.
Health Information Management professionals provide expertise concerning the use of information acquisition, storage and exchange methods and tools and play a major role in personal health information management advocacy. AHIMA has convened a Practice Council of Experts appointed by the Board of Directors to provide guidance to the Association concerning involving personal health information management issues. Visit the Advocacy and public policy center personal health information pages for more information.
HIM professionals need to determine how to apply privacy and security guidelines to information available via PHRs. HIM professionals will need to know where to draw the line between the PHR and the facility or provider healthcare record. That line will become more blurry as the healthcare industry moves to a national health information network and the interoperability of records between providers and patients raises questions about custodianship. AHIMA has multiple resources addressing PHRs issues to assist with this challenge.