What is Electronic Health Record or EHR? It’s digitized health record that contains patients’ personal and medical information. Records can include screenings and tests results, records of illnesses, surgeries, electronic prescriptions, allergies, immunizations, family illness history etc. EHR can facilitate information from a variety of sources: doctors, clinics, home monitoring devices, and patients themselves. Software tools integrated into EHRs allow patients to participate in their own care and provide greater insights for doctors and healthcare providers.

Several trends influence healthcare landscape around the world. Aging of population, development of medical science, increased interest to healthy lifestyle – all this results in massive volumes of health-related information. It is mainly stored in paper-based and electronic records and is managed by both health services providers and patients.

Health records contain patients’ personal information, dates and results of screenings and tests, records of illnesses, surgeries, information about prescriptions, dosages, allergies, family illness history etc.

Along with paper-based health records governments and medical organizations are actively adopting digital technologies to capture and store patients’ data. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digitized paper charts that contain information collected by and for the clinicians in a specific office, clinic, or hospital. They are mostly used by those healthcare providers for diagnosis and treatment. EMRs allow providers to track data over time, monitor patients’ health conditions, prevent illnesses and improve healthcare quality. EMRs are a valuable tool in management of patients’ care, but they do not collect information beyond a specific health organization. For this goal, electronic health records (EHRs) have emerged. They contain information from all healthcare providers involved in a patient’s care.

However, neither EMR or EHR involve a patient as an active agent in personal healthcare. With new technologies such as smartphone applications, wearable devices and telehealth systems patients can register, store and manage their health and lifestyle. They can share this information with healthcare providers via their personal health records (PHR) in a private, secure, and confidential environment.

Personal health records (PHRs) contain the same types of information as EHRs—diagnoses, medications, immunizations, family medical histories —but they are designed to be set up and managed by patients. PHRs include information from a variety of sources: clinicians, home monitoring devices, and patients themselves.

PHRs are dynamic systems that combine data, knowledge, and software tools which help patients to actively participate in their own care. Integrated with EHRs, PHRs provide greater benefits for both patients and clinicians and improve health outcomes.

PHRs are an integral part of the environment in which information about an individual’s health can flow seamlessly among authorized health professionals, caregivers and the patient. In countries without government -administered health record systems PHRs become valuable source of information for healthcare organizations and practitioners and provide higher security for data that is usually stored in paper records.