Friday, March 5, 2010

Evolving role of the PHR and international health

Cardiac patients are often told to carry a photocopy of their latest EKG (or ECG) when they travel. This way, if they happen to suffer chest discomfort and if they end up in an emergency room, they can quickly provide a copy of their latest EKG so that clinicians can compare that EKG to the current EKG.

Given that more and more patients are now using a digital personal health record or PHR, will this mean that we can simply keep digital copies of studies like an EKG or chest X-ray on web-based PHRs? What if you end up in a remote hospital that lacks Internet access? What if the ER doesn’t allow you to sit in front of a computer to retrieve your medical records?

Paper is nice, but what happens if you lose that piece of paper? Future travelers will probably always carry a laptop, tablet, netbook, or some other mobile computing device (maybe even an iPad) so that they can keep copies of their latest vital medical records on these mobile devices.

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