So your personal health records (PHR) are up to date. Now what?

You’ve compiled all of your medical discharge notes from birth to adulthood and digitized them. You’ve taken those medication lists and memories and compiled them into a spreadsheet you can access anywhere at anytime. You’ve contacted your physician’s office and had them export your up to the minute EHR notes and stats and stored them in the cloud…You looked like this woman.

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Right? Good. So what?

Well, first of all you are prepared to bring your health data with you when you move and travel in the case of standard or emergency care situations. Unfortunately the older we get the less we will remember but you have removed any recall biases by adding primary sourced health information for your future visits or any personal health research you conduct in the future. Fortunately, the older you get the more advanced these technologies will become and in turn more tools will be available to you to put this data to work. No need to wait though, as there are many ways to put this data to good work as soon as you’re ready. After the jump, join me and we’ll explore some avenues that your PHR can help you in the future using the power of ICT.

Second Opinions – This is still an area in its infancy but it is catching on quick from world class hospitals to tech startups alike. You’ve heard about the importance of second opinions regarding your health before, but in the past that involved finding another doctor, verifying they take your insurance, completing their own screening processes, and most importantly…time. However, armed with your up to date and accurate PHR you can get a second opinion in a day or less. You can try top hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic or Johns Hopkins Hospital. You can gain access to a consortium of doctors at sites like Partners Healthcare or have your radiology images reviewed almost immediately by sites like Radiology Response. These services will continue to grow as they benefit themselves financially in addition to your health.

Family & Friends – A well kept PHR can be shared with anyone in your immediate network with ease and could help you or your loved ones in the future. With the ability to review your medical history remotely and notice family trends or share your experiences with friends is something that in the past may have been taboo but newer generations are becoming more transparent with their information as we are all realizing the impact our shared data can have on us as well as others.

Blogs – Just like this one. We have millions of blogs at our fingertips at any given time that focus on countless numbers of topics. Let’s try an exercise. Pick a health condition that has directly effected you or your family. Head to google, and search for that condition and add “blog” at the end. What do you see? Chances are you will see patients with that condition discussing their struggles and successes with the condition, treatment options, reimbursement issues, etc. Do you or your family member share some of these same stories? If no, engage in the conversation and join the community. With your PHR as a toolkit you can compare and contrast these conditions with others potentially leading to a better health outcome for YOU.

Communities – Very similar to blogs, but there are many communities in place where your experiences will benefit the treatment paths of others and vice versa. Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and many others all have condition specific active communities with which you can draw information from. A rapidly growing startup: patientslikeme is a forum designed for this very task. This free site has a simple model: “Learn from others, connect with people like you, and track your health.” Check out their promotional video. 

So you don’t chalk this up to a current fad that will die out soon, there is data that suggests communities such as these are helping clinical studies and patient outcomes. In P’s personal opinion we will continue to see more data in the very near future that will echo these early studies and will contribute to the rapid adoption by patients. If you want to put your PHR to good work (and you should), then now is the time to turn on, tune in, and drop out get connected.

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