• Presentation

Personal Health Records: Putting Prevention into the Hands of the Consumer


Massoudi, B. L., & Dimitropoulos, L. L. (2007, November). Personal Health Records: Putting Prevention into the Hands of the Consumer. Presented at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting 2007, Washington, DC.


Personal health records (PHRs) provide an innovative tool for patients to become active participants in their health care by allowing access to their complete health record at the time and place it’s most needed. PHRs have become an engaging topic in the health information technology world because they put control of personal health information in the hands of the patient, potentially effecting a change in the patient-provider dynamic. While the clinician or institution-managed electronic health record serves as “the clinician’s record of patient encounter-related information” (Tang et al., JAMIA, 2006), the PHR offers much more potential for prevention-related activities. Specifically PHRs offer opportunities to disrupt the natural history of disease through primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention mechanisms. Among health members of the population, primary prevention will be enhanced The PHR’s impact on the well population will be realized through increased attention to preventive health behaviors such as physical activity, nutrition, and spiritual well-being; consumer focused health information and education; and, community health monitoring information. These tools will allow patients to take the necessary steps to prevent the onset of disease. In populations with unrecognized, early disease the greatest benefits will come from secondary prevention measures such as periodic risk assessment survey results; screening recommendations; and, environmental and occupational exposure information. Among diseased members of the population, tertiary prevention in the form of self-monitoring, medication management; decision-support tools; risk management; and, financial management resources will offer increased opportunity for rehabilitations and protection from poor outcome and complications. The greatest impact of PHRs with their focus on preventive care, specifically enhancing health behaviors is the benefits that PHRs offer to patients and their healthcare providers. First, patients can monitor health data about themselves. Second, PHRs can improve communication between the patient and the health-care provider, enabling continuous, comprehensive care with better coordination between patients, physicians, and other providers. Taken together, these will result in overall better quality of care, and increased patient self-efficacy and responsibility.