| Wed, Jul 11, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

On the Record: Keeping Track of Your Personal Health Information

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Personal Health RecordIt’s always a good idea to keep a record of your personal health information. This can be a difficult job. One solution can be an electronic personal health record (PHR). A PHR can be a handy way to keep your health care information at hand and ready when you need it. It can help you manage and coordinate your health care. It can also be a great chance for your doctors and you to share important health care information. Here are some tips to help you think about your PHR needs.

What is a Personal Health Record?

A personal health record (PHR) is just what it sounds like: a record of your personal health. You—or the person in charge of your health care decisions—keeps your PHR online. This means your health care information is always at your fingertips. You just need a computer with Internet access.

Why use a PHR?

A personal health record can be a handy way to keep track of your important health care information. What does this mean for you? Here are some benefits to using a PHR:

  • One-Stop Shop: With a PHR, all your health information is in one place. This makes it quick to find information like recent health services and medical conditions. Then you can easily share that information with your providers, caregivers and family members.
  • Emergency Care: A PHR also helps you get the care you need in case of emergency. If you’re in the ER, health care providers can quickly share information about you, like medications, allergies, emergency contacts and Medicare coverage. In times like this, you let other people have access to your PHR, which keeps things secure.
  • Keep Track: A PHR keeps all your health care information handy and current. This can help keep you from getting procedures or tests you don’t need—or at least not yet. And you can save both time and money.
  • Simple to Use: If you have a computer with Internet access, you can update your PHR and keep your information current.
  • Take Charge and Learn More: Some PHRs let you refill prescriptions, schedule appointments and email your doctor. You can also learn more about medical conditions and prescription drugs.
  • Does the Work for You: Some PHRs are created and maintained by an independent company. In some cases, if you give the company permission, it might be able to get your health information from your doctor or health plan. This can sometimes be easier than trying to get it yourself.

Is it safe?

PHRs generally store your personal information online. This might raise concerns about the safety and security of that information. You can rest a bit easier knowing that PHRs use special secure technology. This protects your information from being seen without permission. You’ll also get a unique user ID and password. And not just anyone can look at your information. You need to give people—like caregivers or health care providers—permission to see or use the information in your PHR.

How Do You Get a PHR?

Some PHRs are offered through health plans. Check with your Medicare plan to see if they offer PHRs. If they don’t, PHRs are also offered by health care providers or private companies. Your doctor might be able to give you more information about PHRs, too. You can also check out what’s available at myPHR.com. Some are free, while others charge fees

Next Steps.

It’s always a good idea to keep a record of your personal health information. An electronic PHR offers an easy, convenient way to keep track of your health care information that is available when you need it. Whether you need more information or are ready to set one up, two helpful resources can be found at Medicare.gov and myPHR.com. These sites give you good general information for every step of the PHR decision-making process. You’ll learn what to look for in a PHR, what you should include in yours and how you can choose the right one for you.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

Resources

MedicareMadeClear: Medicare Checklist – Personal Health Information

myPHR: myPHR.com

Medicare.gov: Personal Health Records

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