A Personal Health Record (PHR) is a digital health record located on a USB device that plugs into the back of a computer. In case of an emergency, healthcare workers can immediately access critical information relating to personal medical history to save time in life-and-death situations. It not only contains a complete medical history, but also includes allergies, current medications, blood type, contact numbers, and even an emergency dose of medication. The USB device was designed to be small enough to fit inside either a waterproof heart-shaped or globe-shaped necklace or key chain for easy access.
People with chronic medical conditions are not the only ones to benefit from this technology. The medical histories of an entire family can be saved to this one device. Current dated laboratory and/or radiological testing, such as an MRI or x-ray is also able to be saved onto the PHR device. Oftentimes, treatments are held until notification to a next of kin or parent. With the PHR, parental consents for medical treatment and health care power of attorney forms can be included.
Even though it is small, it can hold a great deal of information. For instance, it can hold public forms that can be accessed by healthcare personnel, like medical release forms, organ donor status, current testing, living wills, any cultural or religious objections to certain treatments, and consent forms. These can be translated into other languages when traveling so there is no delay in any necessary medical interventions. It is not Internet driven, so it can be used with any computer in the world, even in disaster situations. Private forms that are password encrypted by the owner includes information of a sensitive nature, such as credit card details, driver’s license information, passport numbers, and visas. Being able to quickly retrieve these documents can save a lot of time, energy, and money if lost or stolen.
In emergency situations, time is of the essence when it comes to medical assistance. Having this kind of detailed digital health record available instantly can mean the difference between living and dying. In the age of computers and advanced technology, the PHR is fast becoming a necessary tool. Knowing that detailed medical information is available in case of a crisis means that there is one less thing to worry about.