This week I read an engaging and informative survey report released by the California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) detailing Americans’ usage of personal health records, or PHRs.

What’s a PHR?

According to the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a PHR is “a tool that you can use to collect, track and share past and current information about your health or the health of someone in your care.” A personal health record is different from a medical record because it is the patient’s responsibility to compile and maintain a PHR.

The survey indicates one in 14 Americans has used a personal health record, double the number of users from a year earlier. This number is almost certain to continue growing as the adoption of electronic health records, or EHRs, becomes more widespread. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included up to $29 billion to support providers’ adoption and meaningful use of such records.

Highlights of the survey showed that more than half of PHR users learned something about their health as a result of their PHR and a third of users used the PHR to take action to improve their condition. In addition, low-income PHR users (60%) tended to feel more connected to their doctor as a result of using a PHR.

While private companies offer PHR solutions, over half of respondents to the survey said they felt most comfortable using a PHR provided by their doctor or insurer.

PHR Translation Is Urgently Needed…

Since the results of the study showed that low-income PHR users stand to benefit greatly from PHR use, and in many areas of the country, the limited-English and low-income demographics overlap, it makes sense that PHR providers should expand PHR offerings to other languages as soon as possible. People who primarily speak Spanish or another language should not be denied this service.

If something as simple as maintaining a personal health record can help people feel more connected to providers and be more proactive about their health decisions, then everyone should get one! Do you have a PHR?

Luis Miguel, CEO tel: 530.750.2040, ext. 1