Senior Citizens Jumping Online to Monitor Personal
Read all about personal health records below news
report , with key links
March 28, 2011 - Senior
citizens, for once, are not the age group lagging behind in an online
endeavor. A study to measure participation on adopting the use of online
personal health records finds those patients aged 65 and older are more
likely to get involved than young adults between the ages of 18 and 35.
Despite increasing Internet
availability, the 'digital divide' (disparities in access to technology)
does exist among primary care patients adopting an online personal
health record, according to a report in the March 28 issue of
Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives
"The personal health record (PHR)
is an Internet-based set of tools that allows people to access and
coordinate their lifelong health information," the authors write as
background information in the article. PHRs, sometimes called electronic
health records, aim to increase patient access to personal health
information. Wide use of PHRs will be difficult to achieve, however, if
patients cannot access this information because of a lack of Internet or
A cross-sectional analysis of
personal health record use within a health system in the Northeast
United States was conducted by Cyrus K. Yamin, B.S., of Brigham and
Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues.
Patients were categorized as
adopters (those who activated a PHR account online) and nonadopters
(patients who had visited a clinician at a practice offering PHR but did
not have a PHR account). A total of 75,056 patients were included, 43
percent of whom had adopted a PHR.
When compared with white
patients, the likelihood of using a PHR was lower among all racial and
ethnic minorities, with blacks and Hispanics half as likely as whites to
adopt a PHR. Patients living in the highest income-earning households
were 14 percent more likely to adopt a PHR than those living in the
lowest income-earning households. Among adopters, however, income was
not associated with PHR use.
Of the 32,274 adopters, the
authors recorded 290,662 log-ins to the personal health record system,
and classified 51 percent of users as very low users, logging into the
PHR one time or less in the previous two years.
The second-largest group
identified were categorized as high users (27 percent) and logged into
the system ten or more times.
Patients between the ages of
51 and 65 years composed the majority of the high users group at 41
percent. But, it was somewhat surprising to find that patients older
than 65 adopted a PHR to a greater extent than patients between 18 and
35 years of age.
"In this study, we found the
presence of a digital divide in a diverse population. Specifically,
racial/ethnic minorities and patients with lower socioeconomic status
were less likely to adopt a PHR. However, both of these groups used the
PHR as much as other groups if they were able to adopt it.
“Whether the digital divide
was caused by barriers in access to technology or reflects long-standing
disparities in health-seeking behavior is less clear. Further studies
are needed to better understand and promote use of PHRs among adopters
and to design interventions to increase PHR uptake among populations
likely to benefit most," the authors conclude.
Funding for this study was
provided by Partners HealthCare Information Systems Research Council.
Individuals can create their
own PHR, or may be offered one by a variety of sources, such as a
healthcare provider, insurer, employer or a commercial supplier of PHRs,
according to the American Health Information Management Association. The
AHIMA is a national non-profit association, founded in 1928 and
dedicated to the effective management of personal health information
needed to deliver quality healthcare.
“Each supplier has different
policies and practices regarding how they may use data they store for
the individual. Study the policies and procedures carefully to make sure
you understand how your personal health information will be used and
protected. Policies to look for include privacy and security; the
ability of the individual, or those they authorize, to access their
information; and control over accessibility by others,” according to
What is a Personal Health
By the American Health
Information Management Association (AHIMA)
The PHR is a tool that you can
use to collect, track and share past and current information about your
health or the health of someone in your care. Sometimes this information
can save you the money and inconvenience of repeating routine medical
tests. Even when routine procedures do need to be repeated, your PHR can
give medical care providers more insight into your personal health
Remember, you are ultimately
responsible for making decisions about your health. A PHR can help you
Important points to know about
a Personal Health Record:
● You should always have
access to your complete health information.
● Information in your PHR
should be accurate, reliable, and complete.
● You should have control
over how your health information is accessed, used, and disclosed.
● A PHR may be separate
from and does not normally replace the legal medical record of any
Medical records and your
personal health record (PHR) are not the same thing. Medical records
contain information about your health compiled and maintained by each of
your healthcare providers. A PHR is information about your health
compiled and maintained by you. The difference is in how you use your
PHR to improve the quality of your healthcare.
Take an active role in
monitoring your health and healthcare by creating your own PHR. PHRs are
an inevitable and critical step in the evolution of health information
management (HIM). The book “Personal Health Record” assists new users of
PHRs in getting started, addressing current PHR trends and processes.
What Does Your PHR Contain?
The specific content of your health record depends on the type of
healthcare you have received. Listed below are documents common to most
health records and additional documents that accompany hospital stays or
Reports Common to Most Health Records:
● Identification Sheet – A form originated at the time of registration
or admission. This form lists your name, address, telephone number,
insurance, and policy number.
● Problem List – A list of significant illnesses and operations.
● Medication Record – A list of medicines prescribed or given to you.
● History and Physical – A document that describes any major illnesses
and surgeries you have had, any significant family history of disease,
your health habits, and current medications. It also states what the
physician found when he or she examined you.
● Progress Notes – Notes made by the doctors, nurses, therapists, and
social workers caring for you that reflect your response to treatment,
their observations and plans for continued treatment.
● Consultation – An opinion about your condition made by a physician
other than your primary care physician. Sometimes a consultation is
performed because your physician would like the advice and counsel of
● Physician’s Orders – Your physician’s directions to other members of
the healthcare team regarding your medications, tests, diets, and
● Imaging and X-ray Reports – Describe the findings of x-rays,
mammograms, ultrasounds, and scans. The actual films are maintained in
the radiology or imaging departments or on a computer.
● Lab Reports – Describe the results of tests conducted on body fluids.
Common examples include a throat culture, urinalysis, cholesterol level,
and complete blood count (CBC). Surprisingly, your health record does
not usually contain your blood type. Blood typing is not part of routine
● Immunization Record – A form documenting immunizations given for
disease such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and the flu. Parents
should maintain a copy of their children’s immunization records with
other important papers.
● Consent and Authorization Forms – Copies of consents for admission,
treatment, surgery, and release of information.
Your records may contain some or all of the forms above. Depending upon
your illness or injury, you may use the services of the emergency room,
intensive care unit, a physical therapist, or home health nurse. Often
these specialized services have unique evaluation, measurement, and
progress forms you may also find in your health record.