A Note About PHRs, EHRs, and EMRs
The terms “electronic health record,” “electronic medical record,” and “personal health record” have been defined differently by various entities in various contexts. We recognize that the meanings of these terms are in flux, and use the following definitions:
- EMR (electronic medical record)
- An electronic record of health-related information about an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization.
- PHR (personal health record)
- An electronic record of health-related information about an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be drawn from multiple sources while being managed, shared, and controlled by the individual.
- EHR (electronic health record)
- An electronic record of health-related information about an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one health care organization.
The US Department of Health and Human Services offers this advice:
There is currently no universal definition of a PHR, although several relatively similar definitions exist within the industry. In general, a PHR is an electronic record of an individual's health information by which the individual controls access to the information and may have the ability to manage, track, and participate in his or her own health care. A PHR should not be confused with an electronic health record (EHR). An EHR is held and maintained by a health care provider and may contain all the information that once existed in a patient's paper medical record, but in electronic form.
PHRs universally focus on providing individuals with the ability to manage their health information and to control, to varying extents, who can access that health information. A PHR has the potential to provide individuals with a way to create a longitudinal health history and may include common information such as medical diagnoses, medications, and test results. Most PHRs also provide individuals with the capability to control who can access the health information in the PHR, and because PHRs are electronic and generally accessible over the Internet, PHRs provide individuals with the flexibility to view their health information at any time and from any computer at any location. The accessibility of health information in a PHR may facilitate appropriate and improved treatment for conditions or emergencies that occur away from an individual's usual health care provider. Additionally, the ability to access one's own health information in a PHR may assist individuals in identifying potential errors in their information.
Depending on the type of PHR, individuals also may be able to input family histories and emergency contact information, to track and chart their own health information and the health information of their children or others whose care they manage, to schedule and receive reminders about upcoming appointments or procedures, to research medical conditions, to renew prescriptions, and to communicate directly with their health care providers through secure messaging systems. The PHR also may function as a way for both individuals and health care providers to streamline the administrative processes involved in transferring patient records or for coordinating patient care.
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "PERSONAL HEALTH RECORDS AND THE HIPAA PRIVACY RULE," accessed Oct. 15, 2012. http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/special/healthit/phrs.pdf
Previous Section: About this Report | Next Section: Project Background