5 Reasons you should take control of your Personal Health Records

Personal Health Records – Helping Patients be in Control of their Health and Wellness

 

With your every visit to a physician, hospital or healthcare provider, you add a new record paper in your medical file. Your file cabinet is filled with your medical files, reports, X-rays, and prescriptions. Whenever you want to access any old report, you dig out all the files to find the right information. Any follow-up visit to the doctor or a consultation with a new doctor needs an hour of preparation because you need to collate all the past reports, prescriptions and other such details.

Today’s smartphone savvy generation has got all the things in control through their phones. They also have a lot of fitness apps installed on their phones which track their fitness goals, calorie count, tablet reminders and all such things. But somehow maintaining a consolidated medical health record online has slipped through the cracks. For many of us, a complete record of all the personal health information still cannot found in a single location at any given time.

Let’s look at some of the advantages of maintaining a personalized digital health record, also called as Personal Health Record (PHR), and that will convince you to look for options to use your smartphone for your healthcare needs as well –

1. Manage your Health and Wellness

Having one place to access the healthcare records and information helps you stay on top of your health. You can maintain a list of your medications, health history, lab results, scans and X-rays, and all such details at a single location. It makes it easy to search and look for information – anytime, anywhere. You don’t need to have physical access to the report files in case you need some information urgently. With PHR, you can track patterns and better manage your health and wellness.

2. Better Inform your Doctors

Whenever you visit your doctor, you can get the most from the visit by updating your doctor with your latest health information. You can share the up-to-date list of medications, reports, or allergies. If you are tracking blood pressure, blood glucose, or weight at home, then you can easily share the latest information with your doctor. Such up-to-date information can help the doctors in improving the quality of care.  With such readily available information, you also reduce or eliminate duplicate tests, and receive faster and safer treatment.

3. Be Better Prepared for Medical Emergencies

In case of emergencies, it is important that the doctors know your previous medical history, the medicines or foods you are allergic to, your current medications and dosages, immunization records, a record of your surgical procedures, results of your recent medical tests and even emergency medical contacts etc.  During a crisis, it can get difficult to remember such important information and easily accessible PHR can be life-saving in such situations.

4. Chronic Health Management

Living each day with chronic ailments or medical conditions like blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety, or diabetes, is very difficult to deal with. There are many things which need to be done to properly track patterns and manage these conditions. PHR apps which can assist you in keeping track of medications, appointments, readings etc. can be very beneficial.

5. Set and Achieve your Fitness Goals

PHR apps help you track your activity, fitness activity, weight, diet, set goals, and track progress. One can easily monitor such information through interactive graphs and visualizations and keep track of the progress. This kind of self-motivation helps individuals in doing the right changes in the diet and activity to get the desired results.

Technology is undoubtedly bringing in a paradigm shift in the healthcare space – gone are the days when patient data and doctors notes were residing in silos at multiple, difficult to access places. Consumers today are looking to have complete information about their health data on their mobile devices with an option to share it with doctors as per the need.

Breath can tell if you’ve lung cancer

A simple breath test can now predict if you are at an early stage of lung cancer
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Image courtesy:  iop.org
Image courtesy: iop.org

The University of Louisville developed a special device that can predict whether or not you may be prone to lung cancer. Using this device, researchers at the university tested the exhaled breath of people with dangerous lung lesions that were detected on CT scans. The breath was tested for four types of carbonyls. Carbonyls are cancer-specific substances. If three out of four carbonyls show high levels, lung cancer has a fat chance in about 95% of patients while having normal levels of these substances was predictive of a noncancerous growth in about 80% patients.

According to the study, elevated carbonyl levels normalised after a surgery performed to remove the cancer. The study was published this Tuesday at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons annual meeting in Orlando.

Earlier, patients needed to go through an invasive biopsy procedure when a suspicious lung mass was found. Now this study suggests that exhaled breath can easily identify which patients need an immediate surgery making it simpler and much easier for the patients to get a diagnosis for lung cancer.

However, the conclusions of this study presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

 

A wakeup call for doctors? New age healthcare

“Why admit her in ICU for 5 days for an E-coli infection especially after you have isolated the bacteria through blood work and determined which antibiotics it is not resistant to?” I asked a reputed doctor.

What transpired for almost 20 minutes after this question was a classical offense-as-the-best-way-of-defense story. I was accused of being this new generation guy who reads up half-baked stuff on the internet and thinks they are more qualified than doctors. I was told to perform diagnosis and was told “bring anyone who can challenge my diagnosis”.

For the first few minutes of taking this onslaught, I was baffled. What did I say that made our डॉक्टर साब so angry? It was simply a question, a desire to understand what and why, something that is increasingly becoming a fundamental need in modern times.

It was only later did I realize that doctors in India aren’t really used to any kind of questioning, let alone a harmless information seeking question. We Indians have been living for decades in a deprived society sorely lacking education, awareness and more importantly lack of choice in which doctor you can go to. That made doctors “gods”.

That’s what is changing. The new gen is armed with a lot more education, medical information and the courage to ask questions. If a doctor is unwilling to have such conversation with patients and/or their relatives, they are putting themselves in grave danger. Not the danger of a lawsuit or a lost patient but the danger of becoming obsolete.

The new gen doctors have tremendous opportunity here to develop greater rapport and bond with the patient community by being responsive and by simply having conversations with them. The new era powered by the Internet and availability of information at your fingertips has established itself in the uprooting of traditional industries. Look around you: is travel industry the same, is retail industry the same? Healthcare services will be no exception.

It’s a wakeup call for doctors…

Mitesh Bohra, CEO & Co-founderMitesh is CEO, Co-founder at savetime.com. He has been working in the industry for over 16 years and this is his 3rd startup after InfoBeans and Infosignz. Mitesh is a BE in Electronics from India and has dual MBA from Columbia Business School, New York and Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, California.