06 April 2009

Readiness for PHR, Personal Health Record

A few months ago, I commented on this blog that I wasn't ready to create a personal and electronic health record on the web. Yesterday, I found a change in my thinking and went so far as to log-in to an established Patient Center under the auspices of MinuteClinic. (That's the walk-in health facility housed in many CVS Pharmacies.)

PHRs (personal health records) will be a commonplace item in just a few years, largely due to the federal administration's inclusion of the technology in stimulus funding. Has the national discourse on health care and PHRs influenced my thinking? Assuredly. What was a vague idea a few months ago is now a likelihood for me and millions of others.

What prompted my new action, though? It was a second visit to MinuteClinic (minor ailment) in which the sign-in screen (all electronic at this efficient work station) asked me to permit a default option of follow-up email about a web-based health record. I simply let the default checkmark stand—and then entered my email address via the touchscreen. But the time I reached home, my inbox displayed a message with a link to the online Patient Center.

The self-service sign-in desk at MinuteClinic also carried a small, print flyer about the online option of health records. I took one of those. I didn't actually learn anything from it that I didn't already know. But that small piece of paper contributed to my willingness to follow the link that would soon be in my inbox.

I followed the email link to the Patient Center, where I "registered" with a few factoids and a password. I clicked through my records there. Two visits to MinuteClinic, 5 months apart. The records were identical to the print reports I was given during the appointments.

But I didn't proceed with the next step. That would be the optional "export" of the MinuteClinic records to a PHR at either Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault. Both of those free services carry the word Beta in their logos. That's fair: they would have to be beta at this point.

News reports assure that we'll see a lot of changes between now and 2014 (target year for PHRs). I cannot imagine if the Google and Microsoft repositories will be in place 5 years from now, or what system I may use. Will I choose? Will my insurance provider dictate? Will networks of physicians lead me to a choice? I'm mainly just interested in my half-step yesterday. I think it might be classfied as readiness.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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