Implementing a personal health record (PHR) entails gathering as much information about your past and current
health and organizing it in such a way that it can be easily retrievable and reproducible for circumstances that
might require its use.
The starting point is to choose a personal health record which will allow you to enter typed information as well as
information and official documents such as x-ray reports, laboratory reports and electrocardiograms. Ideally,
the program should have a resource to allow you to learn more about your medical condition(s) and should provide
you with privacy and security. Other desirable features include the ability to store health information about your
family members as well as yourself, technical support in using the program, the ease of transferring your health
information to it and from it to your health care provider(s) and flexibility in the reproduction of the data. All
these factors considered a computer-based personal medical records software application is probably the wisest
After choosing a personal medical records software program and installing it on your computer the next step
involves locating and gathering as many paper documents which you may have in your home or elsewhere containing
information about your health. These documents can include immunization records, prescription drug labels,
prescription receipts, written instructions from your doctor, notes taken by you during doctor visits, office
records you may have from your current or previous physician(s), hospital bills, prescription receipts, and copies
of superbills from your doctor(s).
Once you have gathered as much information as possible pertaining to your health it should then be entered into the
sections and subsections of the personal health record. The basic informational entry process will require typing,
but if you want to include actual official reports such as x-rays, laboratory tests, or electrocardiograms, those
documents can be scanned, then copied and pasted into your PHR. If you are fairly technical and want to have some
fun creating your personal health record dictating the information using one of the speech recognition software
programs such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or ViaVoice is an alternative which is also more efficient than typing.
If you do not want to go out and buy a speech recognition software program and you have one that came with your
computer this would be a good time to learn to use it. If you are even more technical and want to be even more
efficient in implementing your personal health record you can dictate your health information into a digital
recorder, transcribe it through the voice editor software program that comes with the digital recorder into a word
processor program such as Microsoft Word or one that comes with the speech recognition program, then copy and paste
it into your PHR. The latter method allows you to document information for entry into your health record in real
time, such as you come across stored records in your home or if you dictate notes during doctor visits.
After you have entered as much health-related information about yourself as you have, then fully explore the
personal health record program you have, going through all the tabs and sub tabs to see if there is any other
information you can retrieve and enter at a later date. You might need to obtain some of this information from your
health care provider(s), but since it is not yet commonplace for patients to share the responsibility of
maintaining a health record it might be necessary for you to clear the air first by explaining to your doctor(s)
the benefits of having a personal health record, so as not to engender any fears of you being litigious. Also, do
not hesitate to make journal entries regarding symptoms or developments that can be presented and discussed during
an impending doctor visit.
Once implemented, the maintenance and updating of your personal health record should motivate you to be more
involved in your health care and hopefully improve your health.
Victor Battles, M.D.
September 26, 2009
For more information regarding implementing a personal health record visit my website.
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