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Electronic personal health records easy way to track family's health

Oct. 10, 2011 at 8:23 AM ET

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My family’s health record currently consists of a folder stuffed with — physicals, hospital forms, test results. I’ve been fortunate in that my kids have been healthy and they’ve all had the same doctor since birth, so I haven’t really worried about it. But what if something went wrong or we moved? Would I have a complete health record to share in an emergency or with a new doctor?

That’s the promise of an electronic personal health records (PHR). It’s an electronic central repository of health-related information collected from all the health professionals and organizations a person encounters. So, notes from my son’s pediatrician, allergist and the ER doctor who stitched his head shut would all appear in one record.

Today it can serve as the basis for providing reminders for vaccinations and easy access to medical test results. In the future, doctors will check patient-reported data for measurements like blood glucose levels or blood pressure and they could use the PHR to see if there are aberrations that might help lead to a diagnosis, or allergies and sensitivities that might rule out using a particular medication.

The thought of manually inputting all of that data into a personal health record for each family member is daunting, to say the least. So I haven’t done it, despite the benefits. But now there are a couple of websites —  MotherKnows and MyMediConnect — that take the grunt work out of loading my data, so I can sit back a reap the benefits.

These sites will contact all the doctors, hospitals and other medical organizations on your behalf and input the data for you. And you can input your own notes once the file is started.

MotherKnows /

MotherKnows is a subscription service that sets up links to my children’s doctors and labs to get data on an ongoing basis. I can check growth charts, immunizations and medication history and see full records from doctor’s visits. Plus there’s an Emergency Health Card I can print and give to sitters or to EMS, should there be an emergency.

For $49 a year, MotherKnows will collect records quarterly from up to four healthcare providers. Plus there’s a one-time $49 setup fee to collect records from birth to present. Additional children are $39 per year. There’s also a $4.95 monthly option with additional children costing $4, but MotherKnows will only collect data from one provider quarterly. If you let your subscription lapse, you can still access your records.

MediConnect /

For whole-family coverage, there’s MyMediConnect. Instead of a subscription, you pay per record request. It costs $29.95 per request plus a $45 provider copying fee, which includes collecting and scanning your records.

For collecting and creating diagnostic-quality scans of your X-rays, MRIs or CAT scan images, you pay $39.95 per request, plus the $45 provider copying fee. The copying fee is listed separately since, in rare cases, you may exceed the $45 and have to pay more. MyMediConnect works with Microsoft HealthVault, allowing export or import of your records. (Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBCUniversal.)

Both services use 256-bit encryption to store your records and employ industry-standard practices to safeguard your privacy while collecting data. Your insurance company, hospitals, doctors’ offices — they all have electronic health records. The personal health record is your copy of these in one place, enabling you to take charge and present a full medical history to healthcare providers, should the need arise.

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