Health IT has opened many avenues for exploration which have allowed healthcare professionals to improve the quality of care. Technology has been considered as one of the driving forces in the improvement of healthcare delivery. Considerably, the doctors and nurses on the frontline are using handheld computer devices to record real-time patient data. This has been shared and used to update medical history, thus benefiting healthcare delivery. Personal health records tools have become one of the essential devices in the healthcare industry. This paper will focus on personal health records and their effectiveness in patient care and healthcare delivery as one of the current adaptations in the healthcare industry. The personal health record tools have transformed the efficiency and care that patients expect to receive in healthcare organizations through collecting patient data and as well as involving the patient in their own care.
Patient Health Records
The patient health records are a collection of pertinent data concerning a particular patient’s health care. The patient health records are transferred electronically by the patients thus utilized by the healthcare professionals to manage care (Lester, Boateng, Studeny and Coustasse, 2016). The personal health record tools have been electronic applications by which patients can manage, access and share their health information to the authorized in a secure, private and confidential environment. Generally, personal health records include health information that is managed by a patient. The PHR tool has helped manage health and well-being individually compared to the electronic health record. Ideally, the clinicians manage electronic health records while the individual patient manages the Personal health records.
Creating a functional personal health record requires several approaches. The first approach is creating an individual PHR or commercial applications that vary from web-based or stand-alone apps. The patient relies on these application to key in data and access their health data in the healthcare systems. The personal health records also allow the patients to include supplemental information that fails to be included into the healthcare provider’s electronic health records (Lester, Boateng, Studeny and Coustasse, 2016). The reliability of the information entered by the patient depends on the individual’s health literacy and the certain motivations for storing the health information.
PHR entails more significant data over a person’s lifetime and history. The data is visible and labelled to allow the user access the health information easily. More inclusive data in personal health records is meaningful to the care providers as well as patients. The patient health records capture objective and subjective data. The subjective data may include the medical problems, symptoms scores and qualitative description symptoms. Ideally, the data can be obtained from the patient or through the personal health record. The PHR also acquires objective data like vital signs and blood pressure. The patient’s objective and subjective data are entered manually or transferred from the home monitoring devices.
The Effectiveness of Personal Health Records
Personal health records (PHRs) have enabled patients to effectively manage their care through complete information about their condition. PHRs have facilitated quick and efficient access to health information shared with healthcare providers to reduce medical errors, enable effective diagnosis, and offer safer care (Roehrs et al., 2018). Having essential health data such as lab results, immunization, and screening dates in electronic form enables patients to personally update their records. This has improved patient engagement, coordination of care by multiple healthcare providers and ensured that the patient information is always available when the patient is being transferred from one hospital to the other or during emergencies. Ideally, when the patient manages their care, they have a proactive role in maintaining their healthcare.
For the consumers, PHR has a wide variety of potential health benefits, which increases its effectiveness in the healthcare systems. One of the most significant benefits of the PHR is the greater patient access to their healthcare data, information and knowledge (Hawthorne and Richards, 2017). Patients’ capacity to gain relevant information concerning their health sets the tone for their perception and general care journey. Over the years, patients have been looking for access to their health information which increases convenience. By accessing their health information, patients can easily make informed decisions and monitor the comprehensive stakeholder in planning their treatment. Research has indicated that increased patient engagement in their treatment journey has significantly improved their health outcomes (Hawthorne and Richards, 2017). Patients can rely on their access to healthcare information to improve, manage and control their diseases. This is because such information can be increasingly customized to make the patient health records more meaningful to the healthcare processes. For instance, patients with chronic illness can monitor their diseases and promote earlier interventions when encountering a problem or deviation.
Patient health records have led to collaborative disease monitoring, which can lower communication issues between healthcare providers and patients. Improved communication between the healthcare provider and the patient makes it easier to interact, ask questions, request referrals and refills, set up appointments and report issues (Hawthorne and Richards, 2017). For instance, communication issues are the reason for most severe drug effects in outpatient environments. Therefore, the personal health records have offered a connection between the patient and the physicians, thus improving the communication and interaction which changes the healthcare encounters.
Effective communication between the healthcare providers and the patient is vital in protecting patients, saving on healthcare costs and increasing the daily operating efficiency. While considering the effectiveness of communication, patient safety is one of the significant reasons for effective communication. This is because inadequate communication is among the leading causes of healthcare deaths. For instance, medical errors result from a misunderstanding between the patient and the healthcare provider. These communication errors have severe issues that can be fixed through personal health records that improve the transmission of patient data.
The PHR also improves the efficiency of the healthcare provider. At first, the patient enters the data into the health records and submit them to the physician’s electronic health records. More data on the electronic health records enables the clinicians to make informed and sound decisions (Roehrs et al., 2017). Personal health also act as systems for improved sharing of medical data. When patients are highly involved, they become more active individuals in their therapeutic alliances. Their collaboration in managing their health conditions, such as pain, improves medication adherence and functional outcomes.
Personal health records have encouraged family health management. Ideally, the family has a significant role in the treatment and management of a patient. The PHR has enabled the physicians to maintain continuous contact with the patient’s relatives who offer more appropriate information concerning the patient’s status and progress through the PHR. Having s system that can easily update and track the healthcare information can enable the caregivers for elderly patients, children and spouses to manage the condition of the patient and coordinate with the healthcare professionals to improve the quality of care. The family members increase their ability to assess the situation and communicate to the healthcare provider, thus improving health.
Additionally, PHRs may entail essential information about the family members, home, caregivers and working environment essential in an individual’s health. The family and social history of the patient as a person can offer significant early clues about the presence of disease and guide test ordering and physical examination strategies that facilitate the provision of cost-effective care. For instance, obtaining a comprehensive patient history is a significant step in determining the patient’s problem. This is because a large percentage of the time spent in diagnosis is actually on the patient’s history. A personal health record may interact with the electronic health records to obtain data about a contagious disease that has been detected in family members, which allows the providers to consider a family member’s recent diagnosis.
With the patient offering up to date data on the PHR, it aids the prevention of medical mistakes through alerting individual’s in-charge about any medical interactions. Drug allergies or any other conditions that may affect the treatment conditions of the patient. The adaptation of the patient health records has been linked to its benefits to the patient and improvement of the healthcare delivery (Park et al., 2017). Other than its effectiveness in healthcare management PHR is also easy to learn and use, offers perceptible value to the patients and reduces associated costs. For instance, in case of any emergency occurrences, the patient can easily communicate with the physicians through an email link provided inside the patient portal.
Personal health records are generated, owned, updated and controlled by the patients as individual consumers or those authorized. Generally, the personal health records contain life-long health information such as major illnesses, past health procedures, allergies, family history, home monitoring data such as blood pressure, medications, lab test results and immunizations. Access to such health records has been leveraged to better manage an individual’s health. For instance, the patients are allowed to communicate with the clinicians electronically and share their health records. When appropriately implemented, the PHR systems can enhance transformative advancement of healthcare management and delivery. Improved engagement and interactions of patients and physicians will improve efficiency in care. Personal health records are examples of emerging information systems that offer access and control of relevant information with linked ongoing maintenance.
Types of Technology Currently Being Used
A personal health record system uses a set of technologies such as home health devices, electronic records technology, telehealth technology and clinical decision support technology. Home health devices have been utilized for the implementation of personal health records. These have been effective technologies for gathering patient data. These include smartwatches, bracelets and other devices with sensors that have been paired with an application to access medical information. These have been effective for remote patient monitoring and understanding conditions to control the care plans.
The electronic records technology is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart that offers patient-centred, real-time records that instantly and securely to the authorized users. The electronic medical record entails information about the patient’s health history such as medicines, diagnosis, immunizations and allergies. Ideally, the HITECH Act supports personal health records, which mandates electronic medical records to operate reciprocally and in a meaningful manner. PHRs under the HITECH Act allows the patients and their close relatives to be engaged in the management of care. This is because patients who have gained access to their health records have shown a more comprehensive knowledge about their health conditions and their ability to effectively communicate with the physicians and initiate their efforts to boost their health and utilize the healthcare services.
Telehealth technology is the utilization of digital information and communication technologies such as mobile devices and computers to access healthcare services remotely. Telehealth technology has also allowed patients to manage their conditions remotely. Telehealth has supported the development of health-related services and information through electronic communication. Patients can manage their health through remote support from healthcare providers. This technology is a key aspect of personal health records since it allows clinical interaction to occur at any spatial distance and determines how the interaction takes place. For instance, real-time telehealth provides information provided by the patient to be received instantaneously by the second party. The information or data offered is transmitted live and is convenient to use due to constant connectivity.
Clinical decision support technology is a crucial aspect of personal health records. These computer-based programs enable easy analysis of data offered in the PHR to offer prompts and reminders to allow the healthcare providers to implement evidence-based guidelines during care. Ideally, the clinical decision support systems are orders created for a specific condition and databases that offer information relevant to certain patients, alerts for preventive care and reminders about the potentially dangerous conditions. Therefore, clinical decision support technology has been integrated into personal health records to streamline the workflow and allow evidence-based treatment.
Current Adoption Rate of Personal Health Records
The adoption rate of personal health records among patients is high in the current digital age. Over the last few years, there has been a growth in the use of the internet and technology apps in the healthcare system. Living in the digital age, many patients are empowered, healthy and computer literate and have easy access to the internet (Assadi and Hassanein, 2017). This has dramatically increased the use of information technology in health management due to the ubiquity of the internet. The patients have now easy access to health information and are required to engage in their care ways. The consumer-based health apps have also primarily contributed, and the e-health movement has increased the adoption of personal health records.
Additionally, the widespread use of digital information and health associated tracking has led to increased adoption of personal health records. Healthcare organizations have adopted personal health records to boost patient engagement and drive various aims in healthcare such as reduced costs, increased access and improved quality of care. Patient engagement has been on the rise leading to the need for patients to engage in their health management and decision making. The patient portal on the PHRs is connected to the electronic health records, allowing patients to see their medical information. The PHR has more advanced features such as secure messaging, social networking, e-visits and health associated reminders that have increased the patient’s engagement (Hawthorne and Richards, 2017). Ideally, the adoption of PHRs is linked to the demand for care coordination and patient empowerment. Engaged patients update and monitor their medication which leads to positive health outcomes. Patient engagement has been considered a vital component of person-centred and safe care.
Authentication has been one of the significant challenges with the adaptation of personal health records. Ideally, a stand-alone personal health record can be safe if the owner controls the system. However, when the PHR becomes an element in an interoperable health system, authentication becomes increasingly crucial. The successful implementation of personal health records has been influenced by privacy and security issues. This is because privacy has to be protected in medical information technology systems.
Although the data offered by users can inform the physicians’ decision making, not all patient data provided in the personal health records will inform the physicians. A large volume of data on the personal health records might be irrelevant information that might be overwhelming to the care providers during their clinical review. Various environmental issues have also challenged the adoption of personal health records. The lack of ubiquitous usage of personal health records has resented a great environmental barrier to implementing the systems (Showell, 2017).
Legal concerns have influenced personal health records adaptation. Considerably, the providers of the PHR are impacted by the various legal implications for personal health records. For instance, a court might focus on negligence standards where the practitioner has relied on incorrect patient record to make conclusions concerning care. Relatively, since consumers’ desire security of their private health data, aggressive security actions might influence access by clinicians and patients, thus impeding ideal care.
Access, technology, and consumer-related issues have not yet been well understood, leading to individual barriers in using and adapting personal health records (Showell, 2017). Ideally, the developers have failed to understand the clinicians’ and individuals’ mental models of the healthcare processes and the linked workflow. The workflow models of the patients and the providers have been poorly understood. Additionally, the personal health record may threaten the authority, autonomy and control of some healthcare providers. This is because the patients and providers will have to develop varying mindsets and levels of trust. For instance, the patients must trust that the healthcare providers will not rely on the data for their benefit. Behaviour change has been another challenge for the adoption of PHRs. The implementation of personal health records has led to change management issues since users need to be motivated to change. Some patients may find entering health and history records tedious. Other patients have lacked health and technology knowledge which may impede entering information in the personal health records.
In conclusion, public health records are a family of digital information and communication technologies managed and controlled directly by a patient. Personal health records adoption has gained momentum in the last few years. PHRs organize and save the patient health data, thus easing management and access of the health information by the patient and healthcare professionals. The Personal health records have been supported by technologies such as home monitoring devices, the electronic records and clinical decision support systems. The effectiveness of the PHR system ranges easy access of health information, informed decision making to improved patient-provider relationship. Despite the barriers and challenges encountered in implementing public health records, the system has been effective in healthcare management and patient-centred care. Updating and sharing health information on personal health records has offered credible information that improves health outcomes. Personal health records have shown an opportunity for self-management, enhanced communication between the caregivers and patients, quality care improvement and creating broader knowledge and understanding of health conditions. Healthcare organizations should encourage personal health records to help people maintain and manage their care through coordinated lifelong health information.
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Park, Y. R., Lee, Y., Kim, J. Y., Kim, J., Kim, H. R., Kim, Y. H., … & Lee, J. H. (2018). Managing patient-generated health data through mobile personal health records: analysis of usage data. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(4), e9620.
Roehrs, A., Da Costa, C. A., da Rosa Righi, R., & De Oliveira, K. S. F. (2017). Personal health records: a systematic literature review. Journal of medical Internet research, 19(1), e13.
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