Question 1: With companies like Microsoft entering the PHR field, what concerns result?
Response 1: Today, many healthcare organizations focus on improvement of the efficiency and quality of medical care. The quality and output of medical care strongly depend on how efficiently the work is done by medical personnel who should address healthcare issues correctly and promptly. The key to successful work is a fast data exchange since physicians and other healthcare specialists should access patients’ personal data promptly to take this or that decision on treatment methods. At first glance, placing personal health records on the Internet seems to be useful and reasonable. However, the availability of patients’ personal data has raised some concerns about privacy and security breaches. For instance, Cleveland Clinic and Google has implemented the pilot program (Keiser Health News, 2009). Under this program, personal medical records were placed online and become available to different medical organizations through the internet. This method of personal data exchange put the owners of such information, namely patients, at risk since there are no any guarantees that these sensitive data will not get into wrong hands. It is unclear whether different companies that deal with the online representation of personal medical information, including patient history, personal health records, etc., can ensure sufficient protection of private data from hacker attacks. The access of unauthorized persons may have unpredictable circumstances. For instance, personal data may be changed, stolen or used improperly.
Microsoft HealthVault states that it uses web beacons from the third parties to ensure patient’s health records. Unfortunately, there is a risk that unauthorized persons may access personal information. In conclusion, it should be noted that data security remains the primary concern. Available protective means are unclear and seem not to provide reliable protection against unauthorized access.
Question 2: Compare and contrast a PHR and EHR
Response 2: To compare PHR and HER it is necessary to give a short description of each record. Personal health record or PHR is a record that contains complete or partial health information about a patient over his/her lifetime. PHR is considered to be the person-centric record.
Electronic health record (EHR) also contains health related information of the person, but it is available to many health care providers and organizations. Personal health record includes such information as diagnoses, prescribed medications, immunizations, medical history and contact information of healthcare provider. This record can be managed and accessed only by a patient. Patients may use personal health care records to maintain their information in private and secure environment. However, these data are unavailable for other medical organizations and healthcare specialists.
Unlike PHRs, electronic health records include extended information and go beyond standard clinical data. They provide a broader view on patient’s care. These records contain the information that is provided by clinicians who are involved in patient treatment. One more advantage of EHR before PHR is that it may be available to other health care providers, including laboratories and medical specialists. This is a useful feature since any specialists can get access to patient’s information and take quick decisions. The information that is contained in electronic health record can be managed, created and consulted by authorized specialists while PHR information is available only to a patient who makes a decision how to use it. On the other hand, the availability of electronic health record to various stakeholders put patients at risk since their sensitive information may get into wrong hands. Regardless confidentiality threats, the use of electronic health record is more beneficial in comparison with personal health records as it ensures prompt data exchange between different persons who are involved in patient’s care. Fast data exchange may be critical especially when it is necessary to take immediate decisions on patient’s care. However, PHR provides better security of sensitive information and mitigates the risk of data theft.
Question 3: Why are standards such as the CCR important to healthcare? Note: CCR stands for continuity of care record. The CCR standard is a core data set of relevant current and past information about a patient’s health status and healthcare treatment.
Response 3: Continuity of care record (CCR) is a standard that regulates the creation of electronic summaries of patients’ health. CCR focuses on improvement of health care quality and reduction of medical errors.
CCR contains different information, including information about health care providers, patient demographics and insurance, medical list, allergic reactions and applied medical procedures, as well as recommendations for future care. Continuity of Care Record has XML format and, therefore, it may be created and read only by software systems. This format ensures safe and secure data exchange between caregivers (Tessier et al., n.d.)
CCR was developed in response to the urgent need for transportability of minimum health information. Such transportability is especially critical when it is necessary to transfer the patients to the other health care provider. It simplifies healthcare process and makes it continuous.
The primary goal of CCR is to provide easy access to patients’ information and ensure the possibility for easy updating this information when the patient is transferred to the other provider to maintain safety and continuity of patient care. As a rule, CCR is completed by nurses, physicians and other medical personnel upon transfer of the patient from one care provider to the other one.
In the light of above, it is easy to conclude that continuity of care record is critical since it ensures exchange of administrative, clinical and demographic information and maintains continuity of healthcare process.
- Keiser Health News. (2009). Experts Raise Privacy, Security Concerns About Online PHR Program Launched by Google, Cleveland Clinic.
- Tessier, et al. (n.d.).Continuity of Care Record (CCR)