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January 2009 Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource Highlights Stroke Symptoms, Personal Health Records and Volunteering
Date:1/15/2009

rgency situation. But the technology is still evolving, and many challenges are yet to be worked out.

Among those challenges are where the records will be stored and how they will be accessed and updated. Many of today's personal health records are connected to existing electronic medical records from a single health care provider or insurer. The health care provider may be able to upload data from devices that measure heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose or peak airway flow. Increasingly, medical providers are offering patients password-protected access to test results and other data in the individual's medical record. One drawback is that providers from other health care organizations may not be able to access this type of personal health record.

Other personal health records are designed to stand alone, giving the patient more control and responsibility over what's included. This approach may allow multiple parties to access and update the information. For example, the patient can record exercise and diet progress, a pharmacist can input prescription information, and a doctor can add test results.

However, various providers might not use the same information format, perhaps hindering efforts to keep health records up-to-date and well organized. The patient has the responsibility to ensure that the information is current and accurate.

Privacy is another concern. Health information stored on a stand-alone Web site may not be as secure as data stored by a health care system, which must comply with privacy rules mandated by the federal government's Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Patients interested in learning more about a personal health record should start by investigating what's available through primary health care providers or insurers. If no template is available, patients can request electronic or written records to start a stand-alone p
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