Health Information Management

Understand the benefits, costs, and value of PHRs

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 6, 2009

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Personal health records (PHR) can literally change the world. Sound a bit lofty? Kerry Weems, acting administrator for CMS, doesn’t think so.

Weems was not alone in encouraging HIM directors at the 80th annual AHIMA conference in Seattle October 12–15, 2008 to think big when pondering PHRs and patient-centric care.

PHRs will significantly affect healthcare delivery and health information technology, and directors should welcome the change, Weems said.

HIM directors can spearhead the PHR process at their hospitals in several ways:

  • Volunteer to serve on AHIMA’s PHR practice council. "It’s a good way to stay up to date in our culture with regard to interest in and usage of PHRs," says Daniel Pothen, MS, RHIA, CPHIMS, director of clinical informatics and health information services at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, CA.
  • Educate HIM staff members who have face-to-face interactions with patients and who can answer basic questions about PHRs. Use the Web site as a patient and staff resource.
  • Review The Value of Personal Health Records, a report published November 12, 2008, by the Center for Information Technology Leadership. The document describes the benefits, costs, and net value of PHRs and includes a discussion of PHR software models. To view it, visit
  • Take the reins. Communicate and educate others about the need for and benefits of PHRs. Convey this information to upper management, physicians, marketing and HIM staff members, family, friends, and other members of the community.

Editor’s note: This article was adapted from the December issue of Medical Records Briefing. For more information, click here. And don’t forget to sign up for HCPro’s January 15 audio conference "Personal Health Records: Overcome Privacy and Security Barriers and Other Challenges."

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