Personal Health Records and PHR Software Reviews

A Personal health record (PHR) or patient portal is an electronic health record which belongs to the patient. This record consists of the patient’s health data and information in relation to the care that they get from physicians. Unlike the EMR kept by some doctors, healthcare facilities and insurance companies, the patient choses the contents of the PHR and further determines how it is stored. The storage may include an online service, a local computer or a thumb drive. The main purpose of a PHR is to provide an accurate summary of an individual’s medical history which is easily accessible. The health data included in the PHR are lab results, prescriptions, hospitalizations, medical tests, insurance information, etc. The personal health record can be seen as an innovative solution to the problems of fragmented communication and lack of interoperability among the diverse EMR system solutions. This is due to the fact that it provides a single source for authentication and remote access of the health information data from all EMR systems. Below are some of the widely used PHR systems.

Epic MyChart/Epic Lucy

Epic Lucy interacts well with Epic MyChart and both enable patients to share their health records with physicians even in the absence of any Epic system. Epic MyChart also referred to as the organizer given that it stores, indexes and helps in the extraction of medical information conveniently. It acts as an online warehouse for patient information.

A key feature of the Epic MyChart is the Care Everywhere tool. This tool ensures interoperability irrespective of the patient's location. This enables clinicians to track the progress of their patients since the connection between the patient and the healthcare facility is sustained.

Epic Lucy on the other hand does not rely on the Epic platform in order to run. Therefore, it is ideal for most patients especially the ones who prefer to receive health care from multiple medical institutions. In addition to the built-in security features, Epic does not sell patients’ data to secondary users. This ensures privacy and preservation of confidentiality of the health information.

Microsoft HealthVault

This PHR can be used to access health information even in the absence of an EMR. With interoperability feature, information from other PHR providers can be added to it as long as the PHR solution is in compliance with the industry standards. Given that the application is mostly contributed by members coming from the healthcare industry, the users of this PHR can rest assured that sufficient and reliable information is within their reach. The contributors of HealthVault include application developers, physicians, pharmacies and other organizations that are focused on healthcare. One key feature about Microsoft HealthVault is that the users have the freedom to choose which health applications have access to their records. The solution is online and free to join.

Minerva Health Manager

Minerva Health Manager Personal Edition is a comprehensive health management tool that can be used from one generation to another. It runs from a Minerva Flash Drive therefore, you can have your records wherever and whenever.

Key features to note:

  • Since the records in the flash drive are portable, you can easily share them with your doctor or with the first responders in the event of an emergency.
  • You can have your health information in your iPhone, iPad or Android device by storing them using the Minerva PHR Viewer.
  • Allows the user to have some of their health care information private. Thereby, you can choose what information can be viewed by either your family members or your physicians. PHR Portal/Weill Cornell CONNECT is a new online Personal Health Records that simply improves accessibility; patients can visit a hospital that does not have electronic health records and still access their health information. This is possible only if the hospital has internet connectivity. Most patients who use it express satisfaction as they receive improved health care. A leading feature of this system is that it allows customers to incorporate their data into other applications as well as increased portability to move or store their health information where they have complete control. The service is not only free but also uses Microsoft's HealthVault and Amalga technologies for data storage.

The Portal is used majorly by:

  1. NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center
  2. New York Presbyterian Hospital
  3. Columbia University Medical Center
  4. Columbia University College of physicians and surgeons

Patient Ally

Patient Ally is a free internet based Personal Health Records. It is part of part of the Office Ally EMR (Electronic Medical Records) which is an accredited EHNAC (The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission) organization.

This software has the following key features:

  1. Pre-built in forms which are only filled in once to eliminate redundant from filling.
  2. Patient Ally’s internal Inbox for communication with a health care provider through the Patient Channel.
  3. The Document Centre which enables the patient to upload all medical records only once and use the Inbox to send them to their providers.
  4. It enables the patient to view the latest vitals in charts from doctor visits plus they can also enter and keep track of their own vitals. It has a health opinion system which gives recommendations based on the history of patient’s vitals.

Patient Fusion

This PHR enables practitioners to fulfil one of the meaningful use requirements. This is because Patient Fusion PHR platform allows practitioners to give patients online access to their medical charts. By this, the patients can securely view diagnoses, immunizations and prescriptions. Thereby fulfilling one of the proposed Meaningful Use Stage 2 Requirements of the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act of 2009 which mandates that practitioners give their patients the ability to view, download and send their medical records online. Patient Fusion is easy to set up as it is already integrated into the Practice Fusion’s free web-based electronic health record (EHR). For a physician to grant a patient access to their data, they just do so by a simple click from the charting interface. Users of the Practice Fusion software have this feature available to them at no cost or downtime. However, a physician can only enrol willing patients into the system. Using this system yields higher quality services, better outcomes and fewer medical mistakes all at lower costs.