Guest Blog By: John Snyder, DTR,RD The Human Element, Inc.
It is pretty easy to follow the natural progression of
computer software in the field of dietetics. First there was Bowes and Church
and the USDA
Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Then came nutritional analysis
software that exploded into web-based applications. Now with "Smart -
Mobile" devices we have access to "Apps" that let us track and
analyze our food intake, log activity, track blood sugars or blood pressure,
and a host of other health related information. Doctors are now keeping
health information in electronic health record systems (EHR-S). Patients can
see that information and even get a copy of it, but may not "touch"
it. It's a legal record that a patient doesn't have the authority to add to or
change directly. Patients must communicate information to the practitioner and
the practitioner must then add it to the EHR. The question is how we bridge the
gap so that health information tracked by the patient seamlessly flows through
to a practitioner. Enter stage left--the personal health record system (PHR-S).
Personal Health Record Systems (PHR-S) have the
potential to bridge the gap between the health information people keep track of
and the EHR-S, making it easier for practitioners to have access to a more
complete health picture. PHR-S may allow people to create and store personal
health information including history of diseases and immunizations; real-time
tracking of prescription and Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, herbal
products, and supplements; diet and exercise information, and chronic disease
monitoring information such as blood glucose levels or blood pressure. Once
this information is in the PHR-S, security access rights may be assigned to
that information to allow/deny sharing it with providers, laboratories, health
information exchanges, Immunization Information Systems, etc. It could even
allow linking to a family member's PHR to create a medical genealogy. PHR-S
also have the ability to act as the gateway for mobile device companies, such
as Garmin or AccuCheck, to upload information from their devices into a system
that will communicate it to an EHR-S without having to absorb the time and cost
of developing their own EHR-S compliant bridge.
The full potential of PHR-S is starting to take shape as the
market niche reorganizes and clearly defines its role. Dietitians need to be
aware of and do our best to influence this newly emerging market. While the
diet and fitness industries may have started the trend of web-based and mobile
health application development, manufactures of mobile devices for tracking
chronic disease conditions are hot on their heels. Dietitians are already the
subject matter experts in most, if not all, of these areas and can help PHR-S
vendors obtain the most meaningful information for sharing with an EHR-S.