What is a Personal Health Record?

If you’ve ever heard the terms “Personal Health Record” or “PHR” and you thought, “What?!” you’re not alone. While the concept of a PHR is not new, a few recent changes have made it especially relevant right now. 
A PHR is a timeline of your health. All events, like being prescribed a medication, emergency room visits, or even your annual physicals, are a part of your health timeline. A PHR includes all this information and can be the source of truth for your health records.  
But…isn’t that what health record systems already are? Sadly, no! Tools like patient portals only have a subset of records, because they are specific to a certain doctor, location, or insurance provider. No entity, government, or medical organization has a centralized database with all-inclusive health records. Today, there isn’t one true source for your medical history or timeline. 
The good news is that PHRs can fill that gap and become YOUR source of truth. An area where this is already taking place is personal finance. People who use multiple banks or credit cards often have individual accounts for each one. Personal finance management tools like Mint or YNAB bring all those accounts together and provide a single timeline or dashboard for all those purchases, paychecks, and bills. What bank accounts are to personal finance management tools, patient portals are to personal health records. 
So why are PHRs relevant right now? This year, a new regulation called the 21st Century CURES Act takes effect. It makes PHRs easier to use than ever before. Before this regulation, to create and maintain a PHR you had to tediously type in all medical records. Now, you can connect a PHR to patient portals and the records appear automatically. 
Most of us carry a smartphone with us everywhere we go, and have access to maps of the world, a way to reach anyone we know, and a tool to answer almost any question. Now, also having your health timeline a tap away is becoming a reality.  
But why do you even need a PHR? Let’s go back to the finance analogy: It’s important to see how much you’re earning versus spending in order to stay on budget, pay off debt, or save for a big purchase. Your health is the same way. Having a PHR as your source of truth could save your life. Doctors want to know what medications you’re taking, the other providers you’re seeing, your latest test results, and anything else relevant to your medical history. All of it feeds into the treatment plans they make for you and the quality of care you get. Not to mention that in an emergency, information in a PHR lets providers make educated decisions, not best guesses.  
If you’re interested in using a personal health record, we can’t help but recommend the one we built, Huddle Health. Check it out and let us know what you think. 
Valerie Garrison
As the Senior Product Manager for Huddle Health, Valerie Garrison works cross-functionally with developers, designers, and clinicians to build healthcare apps that put the consumer first.


Scan with your phone’s camera to download Huddle Health!