Advertising
Advertising

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Health in a Personal Health Record

Why You Should Be Tracking Your Health in a Personal Health Record

We are all responsible for our own health. Our doctors are trusted advisers, but we are in the driver’s seat when it comes to making sure we are following their prescriptions, leading a healthy life, taking our medications as prescribed, and generally following their instructions.

Keeping track of all of this data is a chore. In the past, many patients with chronic conditions resorted to three ring binders stuffed full of their health information, but in today’s ubiquitously digital world, there are better ways. In this article we’ll be talking about Personal Health Record (PHR) software—an easy way to stay on top of your health.

What is a personal health record?

Personal Health Records are software applications that store and allow you to access information about your health conditions on your phone or in a web browser.

The range of information stored varies greatly by application, but at a minimum you can expect to see information about your doctors, the medications your are taking, a list of your medical conditions, allergies, prior surgeries, test reports and upcoming appointments. More advanced packages incorporate warnings about medication adverse events, patient education links to help you manage your health, tracking of key measurements such as weight, height, blood pressure, and much more.

Advertising

A PHR is not a patient portal provided by your hospital or doctor. It’s private software that can be used to aggregate all the data from portals into one consistent timeline of your health, as well as allowing you to add data that only you have.

PHR’s are not new, but the older crop of software was cumbersome and unwieldy. New flexible design approaches are recruiting a loyal user base of people with chronic conditions who need to manage their health more successfully.

How does this differ from using other health apps?

Other health apps such as fitbit step trackers are typically focused on very specific areas—such as fitness—whereas PHRs are designed to incorporate all aspects of your health. Many PHRs will allow you to seamlessly add data from your apple health or other health app software to provide an overall perspective on your health data.

Why would I store my personal health data online?

Storing your health data online is largely a matter of convenience for you, your family, and your doctor. This must be counterbalanced with the risk that someone may choose to hack into your PHR provider’s database and steal this data.

Advertising

First the bad news: the vast majority of health care institutions in the US have either already been hacked or expect to be hacked in the next two years, so there’s a good chance that at least part of your health record has already been stolen.

padlock-597495_640

    For all of this doom and gloom, you still can take steps to ensure you have a reasonable chance of privacy. Don’t just sign up blindly; take the time to review your prospective vendors security page and make sure they have had some form of external security audit performed in the last twelve months. Carefully read the terms and conditions and make sure you know what you are getting into before you press the “OK” button.

    Can I share my PHR data with my doctor and/or my family?

    Absolutely. Many PHRs allow you to add members of your family or physicians as members of your “Care Team,” thus ensuring that they can see and sometimes even add key information about your health. This can be particularly convenient for those of us with senior parents who sometimes need to act as go-betweens in a complex network of physicians and other care providers.

    Advertising

    computer-1149148_640

      Some apps provide convenient summary screens that you can simply hand to your doctor and allow them to review the data and ask questions with a minimum of fuss. Other apps allow for electronic transfer using what’s known as direct (a form of secure email), or even via fax directly to the front office.

      Which PHR do you use?

      I’ve been a serious PHR user for about four years and have evolved in my preferences from a free program from Microsoft called “HealthVault” to a paid application called “CareSync.”

      Untitled
        The CareSync PHR

        While I found the Microsoft program useful, it was cumbersome to enter data—one of the main reasons people don’t use PHRs. CareSync had a more streamlined user experience, the ability to easily lookup the location of my doctor’s offices on apple maps, an integrated care plan that tells me which med to take and when, as well as sharing features that allowed me to easily add my wife as a viewer of my entire medical record. It’s also an evolving platform whereas Microsoft Health Vault has had no new features of note in the past few years.

        Advertising

        Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 6.43.06 AM
          Microsoft HealthVault

          Final Thoughts

          If you haven’t tried a Personal Health Record now may be the time.  After all, as Joyce Meyer put it so beautifully:

          “I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.”

          As the CIO and CTO at eHealth Technologies, Colin Rhodes is responsible for an innovative organization focused on medical records and imaging in Health Information Exchanges. Colin is also an active published author who contributes to a wide range of periodicals including LifeHack.org, Western New York Physician, Corporate IT Magazine, and Autism Parenting Magazine on a regular basis. In 2015, he was rated number 44 on the top 100 HCIT list for his continuing contributions to social media (http://healthcareit.me) and the BlogSphere as @CTOAndITGuy.

          Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

          More by this author

          Colin Rhodes

          Chief Technology Officer

          travel 12 Dos and Don’ts of Air Travel For Conscientious Travellers 5 Ways To Have A More Productive Doctor’s Visit Life Secrets of a Barista Why You Should Be Tracking Your Health in a Personal Health Record agreeement Career Hints – 5 ways to overcome a disagreement with your supervisor

          Trending in Health

          1 How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind 2 Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally) 3 10 Best Therapy Apps to Better Your Mental Health Anywhere 4 7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life 5 15 Quick Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

          Read Next

          Advertising
          Advertising
          Advertising

          Last Updated on July 10, 2020

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

          We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

          We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

          So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

          Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

          What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

          Boundaries are limits

          —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

          Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

          Advertising

          Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

          Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

          Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

          How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

          Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

          1. Self-Awareness Comes First

          Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

          You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

          To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

          Advertising

          You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

          • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
          • When do you feel disrespected?
          • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
          • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
          • When do you want to be alone?
          • How much space do you need?

          You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

          2. Clear Communication Is Essential

          Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

          Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

          3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

          Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

          That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

          Sample language:

          Advertising

          • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
          • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
          • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
          • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
          • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
          • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
          • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

          Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

          4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

          Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

          Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

          Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

          We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

          It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

          It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

          Advertising

          Final Thoughts

          Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

          Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

          Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

          The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

          Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

          Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

          They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

          Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

          Read Next