Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Health - Help Me Help You.

Aaahhh yes to be young and healthy again! You hear this all the time from those that are either not healthy and/or older than you. Your health is incredibly important to you and all too often taken for granted until you don't have it one day. And while there are many hardworking nurses, therapists, physicians, and pharmacists like myself doing their best to make you healthier when you need us your health is primarily your responsibility. Let me repeat this - your health is primarily YOUR responsibility.

There's a barrage of topics I could cover that could help you improve your health and well being but in this specific post I'm going to focus on something that drives all of us health care providers insane on a daily basis. And that is the lack of health information available in a organized fashion for us to use when treating a patient as yourself. Unfortunately information regarding a patient's medical history in the health care field is about as organized as the chaos that surrounds a Mardi Gras celebration on the streets of New Orleans in February. Currently all the different health care providers (physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, etc.) are not readily sharing your medical history with one another to make things easier when attempting to treat you. Why you ask? Because we don't know every place you've seeked out for medical attention and our computers don't "talk" to one another since they are all set up separately by each and every different health care facility. This invariably leads to a health care system that is under performing and extremely inefficient.

This is where you come in. You can be a major asset in helping us get you back on your feet again. The way you do this is by organizing your own Personal Health Record (PHR). A Personal Health Record is basically an organized file of information on your entire medical history. This can either be compiled the old fashioned way in a binder with a bunch of paperwork or better yet in an electronic form such as on your computer or online.

To learn more about the basics of a PHR you can watch this video

There are also a couple of podcast audio files available to explain what a PHR is and how it works here - and

I personally recommend starting a Personal Health Record in an online format. There are many different vendors out there offering free PHR sites. To help you get started in choosing an online PHR website I would suggest you read this short article with some very good tips on what to look for -

I would also use the website made by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) - I found this site extremely helpful and easy to use. You can search for a specific PHR vendor here -

I would like to make it clear that the majority of PHR websites are not HIPAA covered. That means that they are not legally required to follow the privacy act put in place by our federal government. Only actual health care providers and institutions (hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, etc.) are legally required to follow HIPAA rules and regulations. However, some of the websites do everything in their power to abide by all the rules and policies set forth by HIPAA. They are referred to as being HIPAA compliant. Make sure you take the time to actually read the websites privacy policy and that you are comfortable with the level of security and protection that they give.

With your help we can make health care much more efficient and eliminate costly mistakes because of the lack of information available about ourselves as patients when services are provided by the many talented health care providers out there. I urge you to take action now and spread the word about this wonderful opportunity so that one by one we can make our world a healthier place.