Electronic vs. personal health record

Fall 2008 ]

What’s the Difference?

Whereas an electronic health record (EHR) is a computer record that originates with and is controlled by doctors, a personal health record (PHR) can be generated by physicians, patients, hospitals, pharmacies, and other sources but is controlled by the patient.

Google and Microsoft are now promoting Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, respectively, to hospitals and individuals. These services house PHRs on secure networks. Among Microsoft’s early partners is Kaiser Permanente’s integrated managed care organization. Google’s links include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston; the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio; the pharmacy chains CVS Caremark and Walgreens; and Medco, a prescription-drug benefit manager.

“Personal health records can be either linked to electronic health records or stand alone, but linking the two is by far the most useful approach,” says HSPH’s David Bates. “It’s a lot to ask a patient to keep track of all their medical data.”