Personal Health Records

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Introduction

Increased public demand to access health information and growth of consumerism in health care industry are two important reasons form increasing attention to Personal Health Records (PHRs) in the recent years. Surveys show that a considerable number of people want to have access to their health information. In one survey, 60 percent of respondents wanted physicians to provide online access to medical records and test results, and online appointment scheduling; 1 in 4 said they would pay more for the service.

Moreover, increasing costs of healthcare delivery and emerging trends toward patient empowerment and patient-centered care in order to achieve higher quality healthcare, needs patients to play a more active role in their own health management. Access to personal health information is a fundamental part of this process.

What are Personal Health Records?

There is no uniform definition of PHR in literature and industry. Among different definitions, Markle Foundation definition is more widely accepted and used. Markle Foundation defines Personal Health Record as:

“An electronic application through which individuals can access, manage and share their health information, and that of others for whom they are authorized, in a private, secure, and confidential environment”

The above definition is relatively broad, yet it does not cover all the features a PHR might have. Many experts believe that access to personal health information by itself cannot improve the quality of care nor it can empower patients and help them make informed decision unless they have access to some tools and services to interact with the system and get support for their decisions. Secure communication between patients and caregivers, app...

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