Your personal health information — do you know who has it or where to find it in Dallas, Houston or in the other Texas cities where you have lived? Do you have it? In most cases, a complete record of all of your personal health information can’t be found at any single location or in any consistent format. Each one of your healthcare providers (family practitioner, allergist, OB-GYN, etc.) compiles a separate medical record on you. And often times, these multiple medical records can lead to an incomplete story about your health.
Keeping your own personal health record (PHR) provides doctors with valuable information that can help improve the quality of care you receive. A PHR can minimize or eliminate duplicate tests. It can also help you receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency. In short, with a PHR, you can play a more active role in your healthcare.
Starting a Personal Health Record
Your health information is scattered across many different providers and facilities. A Personal Health Record is a collection of this information about your health or the health of someone you are caring for, such as a parent or child that you would actively maintain and update. The information comes from your healthcare providers, and most importantly, from you.
Why Start a PHR?
Your own PHR should provide a different perspective, showing all your health-related information. It can include any information that you think might affect your health, including information that your doctor may not have, such as your exercise routines, dietary habits, or glucose levels if you are diabetic.
In addition, the PHR is a critical tool that enables you to partner with your providers. It can reduce or eliminate duplicate procedures or processes, which can save healthcare dollars, as well as your time and the provider’s time.
What Should be in Your PHR?
When collecting information from your health records, make sure you include:
* Personal identification, including names, birth dates, and social security numbers
* Emergency contacts
* Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your physician, dentist, and other specialists
* Health insurance information
* Living wills and advance directives
* Organ donor authorization
* A list and dates of significant illnesses and surgeries
* Current medications and dosages
* Immunizations and their dates
* Important events, dates, and hereditary conditions in your family history
* A recent physical examination
* Opinions of specialists
* Important tests results
* Eye and dental records
* Correspondence between you and your provider(s)
* Correspondence between you and your health insurance company
* Permission forms for release of information, operations, and other medical procedures
* Any information you want to include about your health – such as your exercise regimen, any herbal medications you take and any counseling you may receive.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a PHR
Young, healthy people move, often frequently. Therefore you are likely to have health records scattered over all over Texas and beyond. Remember the flu last year in Dallas? And the routine exam three years ago in Houston? Keeping your own personal health record (PHR) provides new and existing doctors with valuable information that can help improve the quality of care you receive.
To start your personal health record, you will need to request a copy of your health records from all your healthcare providers, including your general practitioner, and your eye doctor, dentist, and any other specialists you have seen. Don’t feel that you need to gather all your health information at the same time. One way to handle your record retrieval is to ask for your recent records each time you visit a healthcare provider.
Incorporate the following steps, at your own pace, when creating your own personal health record:
1. Contact your doctors’ offices, the health information management (HIM) or the medical records staff at each facility where you have received treatment. Ask if your records are in an electronic format that you can access, or if you need to request copies. Also, ask your physician or the HIM professional to help you determine which parts of your record you need. Furthermore, find out if your provider has his or her own plan for helping patients to create their PHRs.