The Personal Health Record – A Means of Containing Healthcare Costs

Employing a personal health record can decrease healthcare expenses because many of the healthcare dollars go toward the generation of information needed to make diagnoses and provide appropriate treatment. With passage of HR. 3590, which will expand healthcare coverage to an additional 32 million persons by 2019, more patients will be establishing new doctor/patient relationships and the flow of health information will most likely increase exponentially.
Although in recent years there has been a push for doctors to adopt and utilize electronic healthcare record programs for management of patient health data in the hopes that there will be a centralized database of patient health information that will minimize treatment errors, the truth of the matter is, most doctors have not adopted the technology, and even if most did, because of the differences in practice and recording styles, a central database would not contain all of the data updated in real-time to meet healthcare needs of every patient in every healthcare setting and situation. Therefore, the best repository of health information is you and your own personal health record.
One scenario illustrating the cost of generating and exchanging medical data is the initial new patient visit to establish a doctor/patient relationship. A physician or other healthcare provider evaluating a patient for the first time needs information provided by the patient which is oftentimes lacking because the patient is not knowledgeable and/or because previous treatment records were not requested, requested but not received, or requested and received but illegible. The new physician will Weight Loss Myths 2018 oftentimes need approximate dates of diagnoses, approximate dates and results of prior tests, and approximate dates of hospitalizations with some details of the care which was given. If that information is not available, some doctors will order tests that he or she might otherwise not order had the necessary information been available at the time of the patient visit. The net result is an additional expense for the patient or at the very least another component of healthcare inflation.
Many diagnostic determinations and treatment courses of action are made based on subjective data, i.e. information verbalized by the patient. For example, in evaluating chest pain a doctor will usually need to know when and how the pain started, the location of the pain, the frequency of the pain, the duration of the pain, the intensity of the pain, the quality of the pain (cramping, burning, stinging, etc.), what makes it better, what brings it on, what makes it worse, and other symptoms associated with the pain before deciding whether to admit the patient to the hospital to rule out a heart attack or whether to treat the patient for acid reflux outside of the hospital. Many times however, because patients have not thought about the information in an organized way and/or because of nervousness, patients feel put on the spot when asked certain questions about their symptoms and conditions. By recording information pertaining to symptoms and conditions to be discussed during an upcoming doctor visit, a patient is better prepared for the visit with useful information which can reduce expenses by minimizing over-reliance on testing. Additionally, the recorded information is likely to be more accurate than information which has not been recorded and thus more likely to maximize the quality of healthcare received.
A personal health record might therefore also lower healthcare costs during follow-up or sick visits because a well-designed personal health record software program enables the patient to create pre-visit notes and journal notes about new problems and established problems, which can be printed and carried to the doctor at the time of a visit. Additionally, by updating entries in the personal health record the patient tends to be even better prepared to answer questions that will be presented during an upcoming visit to the doctor.
At the time of the writing of this article the duration of an average doctor visit in the United States is approximately 16 minutes which is fairly generous compared to a county like Holland where it is 8 minutes. Factors which are likely to result in a decrease in the length of doctor visits in the United States include healthcare reform which will increase the number of patients receiving treatment, the shortage of physicians, and increasing medical practice overhead. If the average length of doctor visit in the United States does decrease the number of visits to address a set number of conditions is likely to increase unless more can be accomplished per individual visit.
Implementing and maintaining a personal health record in principle should reduce healthcare cost not only at the time of the new patient visit, but also during established patient visits by shifting the diagnostic emphasis from objective date to subjective data and reducing the number of required visits. The basic means by which utilizing a personal health record can lower healthcare costs is by enabling more efficient generation and exchange of health information.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Health Awareness In India users of the Internet to be careful when using medical information obtained from the Internet and to consult your physician if you are unsure about your medical condition.