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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How cool is that?: the Personal Health Record

The administrative director of Patient Always First has an 88-year-old father who lives in another state. After a lengthy hospital stay about a year and a half ago, he returned to his home but was no longer able to live alone. Different aides come in to help him as well as a physical therapist who comes to see and work with him twice a week.

Before Betsy used the PatientAlways First Health Record (PFHR), she would ask her dad, “are you taking your medicines?” and he would always say “yes.” His aide would also say “yes, I give him what he needs.”

She decided to start a PFHR for him. She called his pharmacist and got a list of his medicines, and then she called her father’s doctor, and asked if these medicines were the ones he should be taking. (She faxed the list to the doctor’s office.)

(Doctors would be glad to check a list of medicines like this because, obviously, they want you on the medicines that they want you on.)

So imagine her surprise when she learned that her father was still taking several medicines that the doctor had discontinued and replaced with different prescriptions. The doctor had no way of knowing that his patient was still taking the old medications as well as the new ones. (A real-life scenario of “medications: just plain mix-ups.”) The pharmacy continued to fill all the re-ordered prescriptions, old and new, and because so many different people were coming to the house to help, the aides weren’t exactly sure what he was supposed to be taking. The doctor was able to recognize the errors and cross out the medications that were no longer to be given.

Betsy then put her dad’s correct medications into the PFHR, and added his diagnoses, allergies, important contacts, etc. as she remembered them and as she asked him to recall. She printed out a copy of the PFHR and it sits on top of the medicine box so that anyone coming in to help can just look at the list and know what medicines to give.

(Remember, just do it. From your memory, it’s going to be better than what your doctor has had time to organize.)

Then, since the PFHR has this really neat feature where you can let other people access the record, or add to it (only with your permission), she allowed the physical therapist who visits her dad to have access to add to the record. So now, when the physical therapist comes, he types the date, vital signs, and other information about her dad’s treatment and condition that day into the record. And Betsy can see all that information when she logs on.

So Betsy can have some peace about helping her father long-distance like this- she really is checking in and helping with his health.

And if her dad should need to go to the emergency room again, then his aide could bring the printed-out PFHR, or Betsy could fax it to the ER, or the ER could even access it online themselves (if Betsy or her father gives them the username and password.)

Now, how cool is that?

Advice to Sandwich Generation women who are caring for a distant parent:
Get a personal health record for them.

Read another personal health record story, or read Dr. Oliver’s blog.

Thanks to Dr. Cari Oliver for her permission to reprint this story from her book, “Cautious Care: A Guide for Patients.”

1 comment:

Safety Signs said...

Good this record should be maintain..