Personal Health Records: Advantages and Disadvantages

Introduction

Personal health records are a technology that enables patients to access, document, and monitor health-related information. The California Health Care Foundation (CHCF, 2019) notes that PHRs are often confused with patient portals. While connected PHRs may take the form of patient portals, but standalone PHRs are not linked to a care provider and thus do not have the same functions (CHCF, 2019). The goal of both types of PHRs is to enable patients to input and track information about their health, habits, and self-management, whereas the purpose of patient portals is to enhance patient-provider communication (CHCF, 2019). I feel that connected PHRs are more beneficial because they allow accessing, recording, and monitoring health information, as well as sharing it with care providers. When standalone PHRs are used, patients have to convey information to providers in written or oral form, which may take more time and effort.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The three main advantages of PHRs include the improved reporting of health conditions and behaviors, increased self-management, and enhanced communication with providers (Ramsey, Lanzo, Huston-Paterson, Tomaszewski, and Trent, 2018). These benefits are relevant both to patients and to medical professionals because they contribute to positive outcomes and increase satisfaction with care (Ramsey et al., 2018). However, PHRs may also contain misleading information, be too complicated for consistent use, and pose a risk for patient privacy and confidentiality. For instance, if patients are not truthful about their health behaviors or use PHRs inconsistently, the data may do more harm than good. This means that while promoting the use of PHRs, it is essential to focus on meaningful and correct usage.

Suggestions for Improvement

There are ways in which providers can avoid the risks identified above and motivate patients and families to use PHRs. Firstly, it is necessary to provide education on various systems and applications and help patients choose the one that meets their needs and abilities (Filip, 2017). Secondly, health IT providers should focus on enhancing patients’ experience with personal health records by simplifying the system and adding valuable features, such as prescription renewal and medication reminders (“Personal health records,” n.d.). Lastly, the safety and security of PHRs should be addressed to reduce patients’ anxiety associated with using the system (“Personal health records,” n.d.). These improvements would help to promote the meaningful use of PHRs, thus helping both patients and providers to experience their benefits.

References

California Health Care Foundation. (2019). Patient portals. Web.

Filip, I. (2017). 12 ways to increase patient portal usage. Web.

Personal health records (eHealth) [Video file]. (n.d.). Web.

Ramsey, A., Lanzo, E., Huston-Paterson, H., Tomaszewski, K., & Trent, M. (2018). Increasing patient portal usage: Preliminary outcomes from the MyChart Genius project. Journal of Adolescent Health, 62(1), 29-35.