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.

Impact on healthcare practice by the use of eRx.

A July 2006 report from National Academics of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM), says “Doctors’ sloppy handwritten prescription kills more than 7,000 people annually and also preventable medication mistakes injure more than 1.5 million Americans annually.”

If that’s the case in a developed country, imagine the state of medical prescriptions in India where medical awareness is scarce, especially in rural India.

To address the situation and give a push for electronic medical records, healthcare companies and technology firms have launched a program to enable all doctors in U.S. to write electronic prescription (eRx).

eRx in India though not completely new, still is not adapted and is a rarely used practice. Though many undisputed advantages can be gained by using eRx, i.e. check for potentially harmful drug interactions and ensure that pharmacies provide appropriate medications and doses. “Thousands of people are dying, and we’ve been talking about these problems for ages”, says Mitesh Bohra CEO, savetime.com, who has initiated a project in Pune to digitize all doctor information and create ability for a doctor to write prescriptions on a tablet computer. “Today we have the technology to change the way healthcare is practiced in India, so why aren’t we doing it?”, he asks.

Doctor with a Digital Tablet Prescription PadOne of the biggest reasons why it is not in practice yet is because of ignorance and hence doctors haven’t invested in this needed technology. When people become aware of the worldwide fact and use technology the same way as in other sectors, healthcare for sure will be revolutionized.

Focusing on the bright side of this technology- that the patients would not have to struggle in understanding their own prescriptions and also they get it in digital format so their medical history can also be stored.

Automation should eliminate many of the errors that occur when a pharmacist misunderstands or misrecords medication names or dosages, conveyed messily on paper or hurriedly over the phone. For example: a spoken request of Celebrex can be mistaken for Celexa, or a notation requesting 150 milligrams of a drug might be read as 1500mg. In electronic systems, drugs and dosages are selected from menus to prevent input errors, and pharmacists don’t need to re-enter information.

Let’s hope that eRx turns out to be the default practice in coming years and  efforts made by healthcare IT companies such as Savetime help save thousands of lives caused by misinterpretations made by improperly written prescription.

Shashank Rathore

Shashank loves to try out new and different things. His adventurous spirit led him to Savetime where he works on UI/UX and is enjoying the challenges that comes with it thoroughly. Highly motivated and a confident soul, Shashank dreams to be an entreprenuer himself. Listening to songs and high quality of friendship keeps him striving for excellence.