“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti

Are you going fast enough to catch up in the field of health IT? If clinical medicine putters to adopt health IT, consumers might very well independently surpass it with widespread adoption of personal health records (PHR).

A recent movement for consumer-directed PHR adoption was spearheaded by Howard University in Washington D.C. They encouraged hundreds of patients living with diabetes in the Washington area to adopt an online personal health record (PHR) from NoMoreClipboard.com. The results of this movement have been quite positive, showing consumers are actively using their PHRs to communicate with doctors and manage their diabetes.

Howard University Hospital’s Diabetes Treatment Center is one of the first healthcare providers in the region to integrate the hospital’s EMR with a patient-focused PHR to monitor and manage diabetes treatment online.  

Funded by a Department Of Health grant, doctors and technicians from the Diabetes Treatment Center utilized a mobile unit and traveled to underserved residents in the five city regions with the highest incidence of diabetes. From June 2008 to September 2009 they screened and tested hundreds of residents for diabetes. All encounters on the mobile unit were documented in the hospital’s EMR system, and patients were then offered a free PHR from NoMoreClipboard.com. 

Assistance was offered to patients to set up their own PHR accounts, which were automatically populated with the information gathered from the mobile unit screening – including demographic information, labs, medications and allergies- and incorporated into the hospital’s EMR system.

Dr. Gail Nunlee Bland, director of the Diabetes Treatment Center, says:  “A personal health record helps patients and their physicians take an active role in managing their disease, which will also prevent some of the expensive complications that could arise down the road.”  

With the NoMoreClipboard.com PHR, patients with various chronic conditions can be more involved and informed about their disease, and in addition, more easily share their health records with physicians and any other places they seek medical treatment.

Consumers now have the opportunities to digitize their own health information independent of a physician or hospital EMR system. As tech-savvy consumers begin to tire over filling out health history after health history on clipboards in medical offices, they may turn to electronic PHR vendors. It behooves medical practices to consider this -as Howard University did- when choosing an EMR system, and learn about what health IT resources consumers are independently bringing to the table. Such PHR systems should be compatible with whichever EMR system a medical practice may adopt.

Health IT is ablaze, traveling at warp speed and igniting different roles in both the lives of consumers and medical practitioners. Jump on for the ride, buckle-up, and remember the words of Mario Andretti: “If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”