How to Implement a Computer-Based Personal Health Record

personal health record (PHR) is a health record initiated and maintained by an individual.  It can be in the form of a handwritten health diary, but in today’s information age it is most practical and efficient if it is based on a local computer with functionality allowing the exportation of data to a USB flash drive. Implementing a personal health record (PHR) entails gathering as much information about your past and current health and organizing it in such a way that it can be easily retrievable and reproducible for circumstances that might require its use.

The starting point is to choose a personal health record which will allow you to enter typed information as well as information and official documents such as x-ray reports, laboratory reports and electrocardiograms. Ideally, the program should have a resource to allow you to learn more about your medical condition(s) and should be secure and encrypted with password protection of your personal data. Other desirable features include the ability to store health information about your family members as well as yourself, technical support in using the program, ease of transferring information into it and from it to your health care provider(s) and flexibility in the reproduction of the data. All these factors considered, a local computer-based personal medical records software application is probably the most logical choice.

After choosing a personal medical records software program and installing it on your computer the next step involves locating and gathering all the paper documents you may have in your home or elsewhere containing information about your health. These documents can include immunization records, prescription drug labels, prescription receipts, written instructions from your doctor(s), notes taken by you during doctor visits, office records you may have from your current or previous physician(s), hospital bills, prescription receipts, and copies of superbills from your doctor(s).

Once you have gathered as much information as possible pertaining to your health it should then be entered into the appropriate sections and subsections of the personal health record. The basic informational entry process will require typing, but if you want to include actual official reports such as x-rays, laboratory tests, or electrocardiograms, those documents can be scanned, then copied and pasted into your PHR. If you are fairly technical and want to have some fun creating your personal health record dictating the information using one of the speech recognition software programs such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking or ViaVoice is an alternative which is also more efficient than typing. If you do not want to buy a speech- recognition software program and you have one that came with your computer this would be a good time to learn to use it. If you are even more technical and want to be even more efficient in implementing your personal health record you can dictate your health information into a digital recorder, transcribe it through the voice editor software program that comes with the digital recorder into a word processor program such as Microsoft Word or one that comes with the speech recognition program, then copy and paste it into your PHR. The latter method allows you to document information for entry into your health record in real time, such as when you come across stored records in your home or if you dictate notes during doctor visits.

After you have entered as much health-related information about yourself as you have available, then fully explore the personal health record program, going through all the tabs and sub tabs to see if there is any other information you can retrieve and enter at a later date. You might need to obtain some of this information from your health care provider(s), but since it is not yet commonplace for patients to share the responsibility of maintaining a health record it might be necessary for you to explain to your doctor(s) the benefits of having a personal health record, so as to ease any possible concerns of you being litigious. Also, begin making journal entries regarding new symptoms or developments that need to be discussed during impending doctor encounters.

Once implemented, the maintenance and updating of your personal health record should motivate you to be more involved in your health care and hopefully improve your health.

Where You Live Makes a Difference When Buying Individual Health Insurance in Pennsylvania

Aetna (southeastern PA including Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley) is one of the largest health insurance companies in the country. They have over 150 years experience in the insurance industry. That is why 40 million members access health insurance through Aetna nationwide.

Aetna offers a wide array of health insurance options to individuals and families in Eastern Pennsylvania. Aetna offers affordable insurance plans in every U.S. state. Here are some of Aetna’s plans:

o PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations). PPOs give you the flexibility and freedom to get care from any physician or hospital – you’ll have insurance coverage with all health care providers. But if you choose doctors in the Aetna’s nationwide network, you’ll save money on your health care costs.

o Preventative and Hospital Care. These plans provide coverage for routine physicals, hospital admission, and outpatient surgeries – with flexible deductibles.

o HSA Compatible. Many of Aetna’s health plans are compatible with Health Savings Accounts – where you can save money tax-free for your health care expenses.

Capital Blue Cross (Harrisburg, Lancaster, Central PA and the Lehigh Valley) offers health insurance plans in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley. They have an extensive network of Physicians and Hospitals. For great value and access in Harrisburg, Lancaster, Allentown, Bethlehem or Easton you should consider Capital Blues.

First Priority Health, (Northeastern PA, the Wyoming Valley) administered by Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The name Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is synonymous with quality health care coverage. For more than 70 years, residents in 13 counties of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania have enjoyed the security and peace of mind that comes from enrolling in a First Priority Healthplan.

Geisinger Health Plan (Northeastern PA, Poconos, Lehigh Valley and Central PA) a not-for-profit health maintenance organization (HMO) serves the health-care needs of members in 42 counties throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania. Begun in 1985, the Health Plan has steadily evolved into one of the nation’s largest rural HMOs by providing high quality, affordable health-care benefits.
If you’re looking for comprehensive health insurance coverage at a competitive cost, the smart choice is Geisinger Health Plan. They offer coverage for businesses of all sizes and individuals & families.

Golden Rule, a United Healthcare Company, (Southeastern PA including Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and Erie) is providing quality, affordable health plans with a host of different coverage types. Individuals and Families of all backgrounds have an opportunity to get quality health insurance at a rate they can afford. The UnitedHealthOne health insurance plans are popular because many of the plans offer the same or similar coverage as United HealthCare’s group plans. Golden Rule health insurance provides excellent value to individuals and families. More and more people in Philadelphia, Allentown, Erie and throughout the Lehigh and Delaware Valley are turning to UnitedHealthOne administered by Golden Rule for affordable health care coverage.

Health America One (Central and Western PA including Pittsburgh) is committed to maintaining excellence, respect, and integrity in all aspects of their operations and their professional and business conduct. They strive to reflect the highest ethical standards in their relationships with members, providers, and shareholders.

HealthAmerica plans are a smart choice for individual and family insurance coverage. This carrier offers a range of deductibles and coinsurances. Health America One offers members clear, affordable coverage, easy to understand plans that are designed by your needs and lifestyle, low co-pays and deductibles, and wellness and preventive programs.

Independence Blue Cross (Southeastern PA including Philadelphia) provides HMO, POS and PPO plans for individuals and families living in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Implementing a Personal Health Record While Applying For Health Insurance Online

The preparation phase of filing for health insurance is an excellent time to implement a computer-based personal health record (PHR) because you can proverbially kill two birds with one stone, i.e. begin the creation of your own all important personal medical record and decrease the likelihood of being denied medical insurance coverage or experiencing gaps in your coverage known as pre-existing exclusions if your application is approved because of incorrect information entered on your application. The online health insurance application process from acquisition of health insurance quotes to the final application approval is a streamlined one which is designed to enable you to find the best insurance for you in the least amount of time, but if you do not have the proper information pertaining to your health while going through the process, the efficiency that is intended may be minimized or negated.   

The creation of a personal health record as you prepare to file for health insurance online probably can not only help you more efficiently and accurately go through the application process and find the health insurance that is best for you, but can also be of immense value to you in the future in other settings such as applying for a job, applying for various licenses that require health information, obtaining an airman medical certificate if you are a pilot, and preparing for visits to doctors or other health care providers, only to mention a few.  

In applying for health insurance, as is the case in virtually any application proceeding, going through the process without having documents to refer to can be very frustrating and might result in incorrect information being submitted causing your application to be denied, and in the worst case scenario, a conviction for health insurance fraud. 

In deciding whether not to grant you medical insurance, insurance companies want to know a number of things about your past and current health such as past illnesses, current illnesses, dates of onset of symptoms pertaining to diagnosed and non-diagnosed medical conditions, surgeries, past and present medications, allergies, immunizations and even some details about the health of family members inasmuch as some conditions have hereditary links. Not all insurance companies use the same application form, but to get a good idea of additional information that you need to focus on entering into your personal health record in preparation for the application process you can download a standard insurance application for your state from a site on the Internet. You may be able to obtain some of the relevant information from paper records you already have such as copies of superbills from doctor visits, a health diary, prescription receipts, prescription bottle labels or notes you have taken during actual doctor visits. As you gather this information prior to applying for health insurance online is a good idea to organize it for quick and easy reference during the health insurance online application process by entering it into the appropriate sections of your PHR.  

It is unlikely that you will have all the information you need at your fingertips, thus it might be necessary to obtain some of that information from your health care provider(s). While it would not be practical or reasonable to expect your healthcare provider to review your office medical record and answer all your questions during a sick visit or follow up visit, state laws give you access to review your medical records upon request during the office business hours. Because this might be a unique experience for your healthcare provider and staff and could engender some concerns regarding possible litigious intent on your part, it might be a good idea to be forthright early on in expressing exactly what your purpose is for acquiring the information and why you think having a personal health record would be of benefit to you and possibly the health care provider as well.  

As you review your office records is a good idea to take notes of what you can understand and perhaps make copies of important x-ray and laboratory reports which can later be incorporated in your PHR if you have a scanner. If your medical history is rather complicated and/or your office record is not legible or difficult to understand it might be best to speak with your doctor to see if a special appointment can be made to review and discuss the salient features of the record and/or if a summary with dates and copies of the important supporting documents such as laboratory reports and x-rays can be provided. If your doctor has a very busy schedule and would charge you a visit to provide this information you might request assistance from a qualified member of the staff instead of the doctor per se, if appropriate.

It is not necessary that your entire personal health record be finished prior to applying for health insurance online, but once the basic information for used for insurance application has been entered, the remainder of the work can be done at your leisure.