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Caregivers as Healthcare Advocates: Uses of the PHR
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 | Margo Corbett

Chances are you’ve gradually fallen into the role of caregiver for a loved one as their health deteriorates. You probably didn’t realize it was happening at first, but little-by-little you found yourself doing more and more and at some point said to yourself, “I’m not trained for this. I feel overwhelmed and inadequate.”

You also realized you were filling a variety of roles - one of them as healthcare advocate. Remembering your own medical details is difficult, but doing so for another person is even more challenging.

A good personal health record (PHR) is a key tool to make advocating easier and o enable you to better assist your loved one. The PHR needs to be a living document, capturing the right information in the right way and organized so the information can be accessed in seconds for doctor questions and emergencies.

Ongoing medical information needs to be captured for ease of use once the PHR is set up with as much medical history as possible. The next important step is to learn how to use the information to help the person do the following:
-Prepare for appointments
-Coordinate their care if they have more than one clinician
-Tell their story in a way that truly helps the clinician help them
-Help clinicians expand their thinking to consider possible diagnoses & treatment options rather than settle on the first that comes to mind, which studies say happens 85% of the time
-Know enough to make good joint decisions with the clinician and help the person you care for follow through

It is learning to use the information to tell the story, provide more information and ask questions during interactions that enables better care and prevents errors.

Margo Corbett is the author of The Savvy Patient’s Toolkit. Visit her website at

Tags   personalhealthrecord, phr, medicalhistory, caregivers

About This Blog

Welcome to the Caregiver’s PHR blog – your connection to health information management professionals and other caregivers managing the healthcare of a loved one. Caregivers can be more prepared for the unpredictable simply by keeping a record of their loved one’s personal health information to present to a healthcare provider when needed. As a caregiver, you can often become overwhelmed with the emotional and physical responsibilities involved in this commitment. Just tracking medications and doctors’ visits can seem nearly impossible at times. A personal health record can help ease your mind. We hope you will visit this blog often to interact with experts in the field to seek advice and tips for best practices in creating and maintaining your loved one’s personal health record and the most effective ways to use that information to play a more active role in their healthcare and simplify your life.

Blog Contributors

Marsha Dolan, Valerie Watzlaf, Cindy Boester, Heidi Shaffer, Julie Wolter, Margaret Hennings, Colleen Goethals, Vera Rulon, Leah Grebner, Robert Caban, Mynilma Olivera-Vazquez, Amanda Bushey, Margie Kelly, Donna DuLong, Sarah Dietze, Valisha McFarlane, Maria Kovell, Ted Eytan, Leann Reynolds, Laura Heuer, Kristin Stewart, Derek Allen, Chris Matthies, Margo Corbett, Craig Newmark, Sarah Buelterman, Skyler Tanner, Aniruddha Malpani, Joan Malling, Marilyn McFarlane, Megan Rooney, Patrick Rhone, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Maria Bouselli, Erin Jordan


PHRs do more than manage medication. Stay up to date with information that can help you communicate with your doctor and stay out of the hospital.

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