Washington Post Examines Growing Use of Personal Health Records
The Washington Post on Tuesday examined the growing popularity of personal health records as U.S. residents seek ways to consolidate their health information. According to the Post, a number of firms have begun offering PHRs to U.S. residents, "betting that more Americans -- particularly those with chronic ailments and those who care for children and aging parents -- will soon demand digital, comprehensive medical records."
The Post notes that "[p]atient-owned PHRs differ" from electronic health records, which "are created and controlled largely by health care providers." PHR service sponsors, which include health plans and hospitals, charge as little as $44.95 to put a patient's medical information on a CD and $24.95 to place the information online. For example, subscribers to a system sponsored by Maryland-based Laxor can upload to a secure Web site information on conditions, treatments, medications, allergies, blood-pressure readings, doctor visits and test results. Laxor's PHRs, which are set up and managed by personal health information managers, also can remind patients of appointments and screening tests.
Another sponsor, FollowMe, provides an e-mail account, printable emergency card with photo identification, direct links to information sources, and laboratory and diagnostic scan uploading capability. Extras offered by WebMD's Health Manager service include health news and customized content and tools. Despite their growing popularity, the Post reports, PHRs face a number of challenges, most importantly legal and personal concerns over medical privacy (Gearon, Washington Post, 3/15).