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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality

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What would be the benefit of adding a PHR in a health center environment?

Patients and practitioners alike stand to benefit when a PHR is added to the provider's EHR network. Unlike EHRs that are designed for medical personnel, PHRs put the power in the hands of the patient by allowing users to control and manage their records. Since patients are often the ones ultimately responsible for their own health, having individuals play a more active role in their health can contribute to better health care outcomes.

PHRs also, ideally, have the capability of gathering and integrating data from various health care sources. Most patients receive care from multiple practitioners and some regularly switch health insurance companies and providers. Networked PHRs provide patients with the convenience of comprehensive access to their medical information from all their health care providers. PHRs can thus facilitate continuity of care across providers by allowing patients to better coordinate care with various health care providers.

EHR-tethered PHRs also allow for medical information to be exported from the provider's EHR into the PHR. At the same time, patients can potentially submit data from their PHRs for inclusion in their provider's EHR. This means physicians do not have to visit two separate systems in order to gather a complete picture of their patients' health. Additionally, since many PHRs offer users the ability to directly communicate with their physicians, PHRs can also serve to improve the speed and quality of communication between physicians and their patients. This enhancement of the doctor-patient relationship can manifest itself in a variety of possible ways: potential drug reactions can be more easily detected, physicians can be informed and intervene earlier if a health problem arises and patients may be more likely to adhere to their medication schedules.

Individuals who manage chronic conditions, in particular, have much to gain from the use of PHRs. In addition to acting as a storehouse for patient records, the PHR system can be customized to also include decision-support capabilities and features, such as support for home monitoring and disease tracking, which can be made specific to chronic disease management. Such functions can further assist patients with chronic diseases and their caregivers in managing their condition.

Related Resources:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
Health Information Technology Toolboxes help health centers, safety net providers, and ambulatory care providers with electronic and online resources and technical assistance to improve patient care.  More>
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