Personal Health Records
HealthIT.gov gives us an online definition of Personal Health Record.
“A personal health record (PHR) is an electronic application used by patients to maintain and manage their health information in a private, secure, and confidential environment.
- Are managed by patients
- Can include information from a variety of sources, including health care providers and patients themselves
- Can help patients securely and confidentially store and monitor health information, such as diet plans or data from home monitoring systems, as well as patient contact information, diagnosis lists, medication lists, allergy lists, immunization histories, and much more
- Are separate from, and do not replace, the legal record of any health care provider
- Are distinct from portals that simply allow patients to view provider information or communicate with providers”
Being an avid iOS user, I searched the mobile Apple AppStore for Personal Health Records (PHR) to try out. I have listed down below the first 5 applications that was given by AppStore as well as the date it was last updated. Having an updated application is important to ensure that the said application will still work with the latest iPhone and iOS available in the market.
- onpatient PHR – Personal Health Record, last updated 17 Feb 2016, Freemium, with Apple Watch App
- Healthspek – Personal Health Record & Family Health Record, last updated 14 Jan 2016, Free, no Apple Watch App
- FollowMyHealth, last updated 16 Sept 2016, Freemium, with Apple Watch App
- Health Tracker & Manager for iPhone – Personal Healthbook, last updated 01 Oct 2015, $3.99, no Apple Watch App
- Teledoc Member – 24/7 access to a doctor by phone or video, last updated 12 Sept 2016, Freemium, no Apple Watch App
Among the 5, I installed FollowMyHealth, as it was fairly recently updated among the others. This is important to ensure that there is still active support from the developers and will ensure that the application is always up to date. It is also a Freemium application meaning that you can try it for free and can purchase other features of the application if you feel like it is worth the money. Having Apple Watch App compatibility means that it was updated by the developers to be used in another device, the Apple Watch. Having another platform to make this application work means that the developers are also continuously updating and supporting the application. Lastly, having around 386 ratings, majority of which gave a 5 stars would imply that other users of the application were happy with the product that they downloaded and used from the Apple AppStore.
Some of the actual reviews of users of FollowMyHealth iOS application.
DeeCee718 – Sept 22, 2016 4-Star
“This patient portal is convenient and beneficial. I can reach out to my doctors at any time of the day with a question, update, or issue and they respond within a timely manner. (Some faster than others) In my opinion it’s better than waiting for business hours to leave a message and cuts out the middle man. (Unless a physician may have their assistant check at times.) I can also keep track of my medical records and upcoming appointments. The only thing I don’t care for is the “reply” feature isn’t turned on. So you have to actually compose a new message to the physician. There are times when you need the response visible during your reply back to the doctor. I copy & paste the entire message to the new message in order to hit each point. Otherwise I frequently use this portal.”
Zumbafan1 – Oct 1, 2016, 4-Star
“I have used the Follow My Health app successfully since it was made available to me by my physician’s office. It can be a bit confusing to find all info available but seems to have improved since earlier versions. I have a relative. however. who is quite a bit older than I and she finds the app to be very daunting. My advice to developers is to think of the older user and make all info as straightforward and easy to locate as possible. Also, be sure that the most recent info always is what is shown first. I like to use online resources and usually can navigate them well. So far I have been able to do that with FollowMyHealth.”
Shellbirdd – Sept 30, 2016, 4-Star
“This app is so easy to use, it allows me to contact my doctor’s office on my schedule and for them to reply regardless of whether I’m able to take a phone call. I don’t have to wait, and it expedites the entire process of interacting with their office. The only problem for me is when the physician’s medical assistant sends me a message; I can’t reply back to that person but instead must compose a new message which is inconvenient and fragments the message, potentially confusing the issue. That fix would make a 5-star app.”
Aries59 – Sept 20, 2016, 1-star
“It all starts with sign-in; they give you a million ways to sign in (using email, FB, etc) yet noe works well and the App doesn’t remember you so you have to start from scratch each time. I dare you to quickly try to find your results and, better yet, understand them because there’s no range provide. Got a 7.6 on your blood test for XX? Is that good or bad? You’ll never know from using this App. BTW – the developers ask users to only put ‘good’ reviews in the App Store; if there is criticism they want it reported privately.”
iloverudy – Sept 21, 2016, 1-star
“Using on iPhone. I have try signing in about 5 times to sign in. Always facing the below error. Seriously?? I’m only using this app because my doctor is using, but this is a failure. Error. An error occurred while processing your request.”
FollowMyHealth is both a web-based and mobile-based PHR application. This means that one can access it via a web browser and also by installing the application in one’s phone. This option gives the convenience of using the application on the go or when one is at home.
- Tool that can be accessed via a web browser and mobile phones
- Available in both iOS and Android mobile operating system
- Connectivity to multiple healthcare providers
- Sharing of health records with healthcare providers
- Provides a Health Summary of the patient with test results, vitals, and current meds with dosages at fingertips.
- Offers scheduling appointments or request refills of medicines
- Well designed and easy to use interface and support system
- Limited to US based healthcare providers
- Limited to healthcare providers that will make use of the FollowMyHealth application
- Sharing of health records with healthcare providers might be possible cause for breech of date
- Elderly might have a hard time making use of the application as stated in one of the reviews
- Built in email feature still needs some polishing
- Patients tend to use the application only because their healthcare provider is using it
- No normal range of standard provided in the results section
Personally I think FollowMyHealth application is a good and useful PHR application. It falls within the definition of PHR as it is meant to be managed by patients. It also includes information from different sources, including healthcare providers and patient themselves. It also helps patients to securely and confidentially store and monitor health information, such as diet plans, patient contact information, diagnoses lists, medication lists, allergy lists, immunization histories among others. This is still separate from and does not replace the legal record of any healthcare provider. It is not merely a portal where patients are limited to simply viewing information or communicating with a provider.
A well-designed and properly implemented PHR can help patients manage their personal health information and become full partners in the search for good health. At present, FollowMyHealth complies with this criterion. It would be interesting to see whether its developers will continue to add more features that would further benefit patients and improve its use as a PHR.
- Tang PC et al. Personal Health Records: Definitions, Benefits and Strategies for Overcoming Barriers to Adoption. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2006;13:121-126http://jamia.bmj.com/content/13/2/121.full.pdf+html
- Kim MI and Johnson KB. Personal health records: evaluation of functionality and utility. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2002;9:171-180http://jamia.bmj.com/content/9/2/171.full.pdf+html
- How patients can improve the accuracy of their medical records. eGEMs (Generating Evidence & Methods to improve patient outcomes): Vol. 2: Iss. 3, Article 10.http://repository.academyhealth.org/egems/vol2/iss3/10/