6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing A Personal Health Record

Alex Bettencourt - August 30, 2010

reading document 300x253 6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing A Personal Health Record

Having a personal health record (PHR) allows you to take control of your health and with so many options available today, we have more power than ever at our fingertips. However, all these choices can be overwhelming. It’s important to assess your needs in order to determine the qualifications your PHR must meet.

Do you want to document your entire lifetime in your personal health record? Or, do you want to record the past few years due to questionable incidents in your health? Do you want your PHR to be accessible to your health care provider?

These are only some of the key questions to consider when choosing your personal health record.  Below are some questions to ask before selecting a personal health record:

1. What Kind of Format Do I Want?
Determining whether you want a Web-based, Software-based, Mobile-based, or Paper-based PHR is the first step. If it’s Web-based, you can access it anywhere online. This may be convenient for you if you want access to your health information from your computer at work. If you feel more comfortable knowing your personal health information is saved on your computer, a software-based PHR may be a better fit.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is also a great option if you want the best of both worlds. Access it from anywhere online, and it’s safe and secure. Paper-based PHR’s are free and you never have to turn on your computer to access it. Just make sure you store your records in a secure place. Mobile-based PHRs that work on your smart phone are handy for users on-the-go. You’ll have your health information with you wherever you go.

2. How Much Do I Want to Spend?
A lot of PHRs are free and others are can range from $4.95/month to $9.95/month, depending upon the features, such as medication reminders. If you have a lot of content you would like to store, many online PHRs require a higher fee for additional online storage. If you haven’t had a lot of health problems and are creating a PHR to start taking control of your health, a basic and free PHR may be the best fit for you.

3. What Kind of Privacy and Security Should I Consider?
This could be one of the most important features of your PHR. Protecting your confidential information should be a priority. If your personal health record is online, look for features like password protection, tier 1 data hosting, inactivity time-out, and HTTPS transmissions. These aspects indicate security is taken seriously.

4. Who Else Will See My PHR? Do I Want to Share it With Others?
Do you want to be the only one with access to your personal health record? Or do you want to share your health information with friends, family members, or health professional? How much access do you want to give them? Finding a personal health record with adjustable privilege levels may be ideal because it gives you the flexibility to control your options.

5. Are There Any Special Features I Need?
Defining the extra features of a personal health record seems unnecessary because most PHR’s contain the same information right? Wrong. PRH’s vary greatly. Some are the bare bones, only storing a minimum amount of your health data.  Have you considered a PHR that offers medication reminders, prescription re-fill notifications, report sharing and more? Do you have trouble keeping all your paperwork organized? A PHR that allows you to store, organize, and share your documents online might be an optimal feature to consider.  You may also want to consider if your PHR integrates with your doctor’s records, and if the information is portable to another system.

6. What Kind of Content Am I Going to Record?
Besides a list of your current medications and medication history, what other personal information do you want in your record? Do you want to a PHR listing all of your contacts, or a journal to track your wellness? Do you want to upload and store your medication records? Are you interested in tracking your biometrics? If having quick access to a medical dictionary or medication interaction checker is important to you, look for those features. Or, if you want to keep things simple with your basic demographic information and your medical history, there are a lot of PHRs that offer that too.

We wish you luck on your quest for the perfect PHR and will be more than happy if you choose ours. For detailed information on what the RememberItNow! PHR has to offer, take a tour.

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  1. The killer questions are: 1) is your health information sold by the PHR vendor and 2) how can you rate PHRs?

    Take a look at the PHR Report Card to see what kinds of questions you should be asking about privacy and security: http://patientprivacyrights.org/detailed-phr-privacy-report-cards/#CapMed

    Many PHRs are designed to sell or share your most sensitive personal information, from prescription records to DNA, with businesses you would never involve in your health care.

    Comment by Deborah C. Peel, MD — August 30, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

  2. [...] 1. Decide What Type of Personal Health Record You Want We advise you to read our recent post, “6 Questions to Ask before Choosing a Personal Health Record.”  You will consider things like whether you want your PHR to be paper-based, online, mobile, [...]

    Pingback by 3 Steps for Your Perfect Personal Health Record | RememberItNow! Blog — October 27, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

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