In response to Tom Shillock's letter questioning the value of personal health records and electronic health records, I think it's important to distinguish between the two. A PHR should not be viewed as the "home version" of an EHR.
In my view, the purpose of a PHR is to record the basic facts of an individual's health history and to facilitate the use of those facts by caregivers. A PHR should not be, and for many of the reasons Shillock stated in his letter, cannot be considered a "mini-EHR" maintained by patients. A PHR should be a straightforward collection of objective facts, such as vital statistics, medications, allergies and insurance information, as well as a limited and precisely structured ability to record family history and past medical and surgical history. The reason these components must be rigidly structured and limited in scope is because of the potential for the patient to include extraneous information that could clutter up the medical record and discourage caregivers from embracing the use of PHRs. I also have concerns when it comes to allowing patients to record diagnostic testing resultsas valuable as this information would be to caregiversbecause of the potential for confusion or error.
As a practitioner and consultant in the medical transcription field, I believe medical transcriptionists, as healthcare documentation specialists and experts in the language of medicine, could be the "missing link" between PHR consumers and the caregivers who must buy into the PHR concept. If consumers had some guidance in the selection and use of a PHR service, I believe the public would be more apt to consider PHRs as a realistic option. At the same time, if care providers knew that the information in a PHR had been "pre-screened" by a trained healthcare documentation professional, I suspect there would be more willingness to embrace the PHR concept. I have been actively encouraging practitioners in our field who are interested in branching out to open a dialogue with companies offering PHR services to explore the possibilities of working together in order to improve the quality of healthcare for American citizens.
Jay VancePresident and chief executive officerVance DigitalYuma, Ariz. To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.