The Personal Health Records fever!

Posted on: 22.05.2018

I long for the days when patient information will be one swipe away. This - I assure you – is not due to laziness! As a GP, I cruise between house calls, private practice and the emergency department. Checking up on patient allergies, current treatment or previous history without delay is gold. 

I'm sure that you'll agree that accurately getting all these elements is a challenge. Either the patient doesn't remember, or forgets to tell you, or you forget to ask about something. Patients and healthcare workers are - and it's never too late to remember - human after all.

Are Personal Health Records (PHR) a threat to personal data?

Personal Health Records are a powerful tool, better used with a pinch of salt. In a Cambridge Analytica world, safety and privacy are understandable concerns.

Making sure that the patient records remain confidential is one of my duties. Empowering the patient by giving him or her the tools to engage in the care process is another one. Today, more than ever, making sure information remains private is an issue.

Is there a dark side to having PHR? Not for Mirko de Malde: "It is the non-immediate availability of PHR that leads to clinical mistakes (in diagnosis or treatments), extra costs for the health services, and sometimes also death. The only dark side I see of having PHR is when those personal records are not accessible or controlled by the individuals themselves."

What I'm leading up to is this: can personal health records be hacked? Can we wake up one day to our data having been sold to an third party?

Empowering the patient by using PHR. The end of healthcare professionals?

Giving back to patients what belongs to them. Health data. Empower them to become the CEOs of their own health. Who better to follow-up daily? Empowering patients is essential, but that's just part of the story.

It is one thing to know somethings up, it is another to making sense of what is going on. As Mirko adds, "a trust relationship based on a clear flow of information needs to be established where the patient better understands her disease and the treatment and also facilitates adherence to treatment.”

Physicians and nurses are the ones who have to help the patient making sense of his own health data.

Do Personal Health Records turn patients into hypochondriacs?

Is there a touch of hypochondria in patients who measure their vitals every two minutes?

Or is lack of medical education responsible for misinterpretation of data? “Education will be necessary, whereas patient needs to be guided by the clinicians in dealing with her own data and understand them properly. In any case, an informed patient, able to make questions and ask for second opinion, is not an enemy but an ally of the clinician. ” concludes Mirko de Malde.

Personal Health Records will be discussed in detail on the 28th of May from 10:30 to 11:30 at the HIMSS Europe & Health 2.0 Conference in Sitges, Barcelona. I hope to see you there! 

Raquel Correia, MD, MSc

Trainee in General Practice and Medical SEO Copywriter, France/Portugal