Two Worlds Collide With Personal Health Records as the Link
By Amy Buehrle Light, RD, LDN
It’s 5:30 am, and I just finished feeding my 9-month-old son. In the quiet of the moment, I wonder if I am doing things right. Is he getting enough food, the best quality foods, enough sleep, and on and on. Of course, I want healthy and happy children, and right now, that is up to me. How can I ensure they get the best care possible?
Next I boot up my laptop, put on my headphones, and switch gears—time for school! I am taking the Academy/AMIA 10x10 Informatics course. Today, Dr Hersh is explaining the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and its meaningful use (MU) requirements. Of particular interest to me is the idea that health care providers are required to more actively engage me in my health care. I immediately think of how that might play out. Does that mean my medical records, and those of my children, will flow from our doctors’ electronic health records (EHRs) to our personal health records (PHRs)?
And my two worlds collide. Professionally, I always have enjoyed the challenge of incorporating technology into the practice of dietetics and am very excited to see the transformation of health information technology. Personally, I am focused on giving my young children the best start possible and finding ways to foster good health in the future. One way I am doing this is through PHRs.
Right now, I use Microsoft’s HealthVault® to keep track of our medical records. This provides a free Web-based platform to collect and maintain our health information, all in one place. Not only can I enter historical data, but I have it linked to our pharmacy, so prescriptions are automatically imported (you can import data from other medical devices too). Another advantage is the “sharing” feature, which allows me to share our records with others (eg, my spouse or a new doctor if needed). The biggest challenge for me is the data entry part—our doctors do not have the ability to send information electronically to PHRs yet, therefore it is all manual at this point. But learning more details about the HITECH Act rules gives me hope!
Here are some of the core objectives for Stage 1 of MU, which we are in now, for eligible physicians:
- Upon request, provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information, including test results, problem lists, medication lists, and medication allergies, for more than 50% of requesting patients within 3 business days
- Provide patients with clinical summaries for each office visit for more than 50% of patients
Requirements and thresholds related to engaging patients will build upon this foundation in Stages 2 and 3. In the foreseeable future, we will interact with our health providers electronically and have more accessibility and control over our own records, including integrated PHRs, if we choose.
Do you have a PHR? Please share your experiences (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Metzger J. Moving ahead with Stage 2 of meaningful use: Global Institute for Emerging Healthcare Practices. Stage 2 proposed requirements. Available at: http://assets1.csc.com/health_services/downloads/CSC_Moving_Ahead_with_Stage_2_of_Meaningful_Use.pdf. Accessed July 9, 2012.