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Over on his eCare Management blog, Vince Kuraitis (Twitter) is running a little (so far) series on “Rebuttal to PHR Luddites.” His discussion reveals that the term “PHR” (personal health record) means different things to different people; to some, it’s a highly manual site like Google Health, while others, e.g. the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project HealthDesign, asserts that “PHRs” are becoming PHR systems.

Vince’s post yesterday made the point with a great observation. Speaking of Kaiser’s patient portal, he said:

It’s not just a bucket of information — it’s a platform with applications.

That’s totally different from many people’s definition of PHRs. To many, a PHR requires laborious manual data entry and is something few of us will be motivated to maintain. (Heck, most car owners can’t even be bothered to record their quarterly oil changes.) But Vince is talking about our having access to the records our care team maintain.

To me, though, it’s not really personal unless:

  • I can write things into it, on behalf of myself, to share with my care team.
    • I don’t mean I want to edit what the doctors and nurses wrote – I mean adding entries.
    • For instance, right now I’m having a travel-induced episode of a painful heel condition called plantar fasciitis; I’d like to be maintaining a record of discomfort and self-treatments, in my hospital’s system, and know that my providers can read it if things ever get to where my self-care is insufficient.
  • I can take it with me and go somewhere else.
    • I’m sure Kaiser lets its patients do that, at least via printouts. But can a destination system read it?

Without these, I think it’s not my personal health record, it’s my providers’ record about me – which, if I’m lucky, I can see, but not touch.

Hey, y’all, what do you think about this? At what point does your doctor’s record become your personal health record? If you can see everything they wrote, but you can’t otherwise touch it or take it, is it a PHR?


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