Health information professionals are hoping their Web site and an awareness campaign will lead individuals to begin maintaining their own personal health record.
Visitors to the American Health Information Management Association's Web site can click on myPHR to find a range of information that provides guidelines for establishing records and updating the data in them. The site also lists various PHR providers.
AHIMA will launch its public awareness efforts during a conference Oct. 8 in Philadelphia as part of its 79th Annual Convention and Exhibit Oct. 6-11. The association currently is developing a public service announcement and will take its campaign cross-country beginning in 2008.
AHIMA believes patients should be in control of their personal information and that the association is well-placed to help them develop PHRs.
"We felt duty-bound to take advantage" of that position by beginning the public awareness campaign, said AHIMA spokesman Craig May. The Chicago-based organization represents 50,000 health information management professionals.
The campaign will at first target four segments of the population: senior citizens, parents raising young children, home caregivers and patients living with chronic conditions.
For at least three of those segmentsseniors, caregivers and patients with chronic conditionsthe "sheer volume" of paperwork that comes with managing prescriptions, doctors visits, payments and insurance can be overwhelming, May said.
"There's a lot of paperwork even for a healthy senior citizen," he said.
Creating medical records for young children can help parents with preventive medical practices and will help students when they find themselves in college and on their own for the first time looking for a doctor, he added.
The Web site is offered as a free service. The association, which is funded through membership fees and sponsors, is not trying to use the site as a profit source, May said. "You won't see any pop-up ads," he said.
The site is a general information tool that takes people through a step-by-step process, providing an overview of PHRs and privacy rights and a guide to starting a record. The site also outlines what information belongs in a PHRsuch as physicians, emergency contacts, family medical history, dates and results of medical procedures, allergies and prescribed and over-the-counter medications.
There is a database of PHR tools provided by vendors, both free and for a charge as well, although AHIMA does not endorse any particular PHR provider.
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