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How can a PHR help me care for my family?
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Margaret Hennings

How can a PHR help me or my family?  Why would I want to take the time to gather all this information? 

In the same way a gardener will keep track of where to buy their favorite flowers or who has the biggest selection or best prices, 

A PHR can help you keep track of physician information such as phone numbers, appointment dates, specialty, etc.  It can contain the pharmacy information such as the phone numbers, prescription number, refill dates etc. 

If the person you are caring for sees many specialists, it can be really hard to remember who the patient is seeing on what date and time.  The primary care doctor may want to see the patient every 3 to 6 months.  The pulmonologist may want to see the patient every 4 months.  The cardiologist may want to follow-up with a patient on a 6 month period.
If you need to cancel or reschedule one of these appointments, you need to have the right phone number to do so.

The PHR should also include a list of the pharmacies used by the patient.  Ideally it is best to obtain all your medications from the same pharmacy, since most now have computer systems that cross reference medications and can alert the pharmacist to potential drug interactions.  Some patients may receive their medications from a local pharmacy, some may have a plan that requires them to order their medications via an internet supplier.  Many patients who have Medicare may receive automated shipments from a medical company.  These items would be things like home oxygen, or diabetes testing supplies.  It is important to record the contact information for these services also, since a lost shipment could make patient care more difficult.

Monitoring medication can be very complex.  The cardiologist may have prescribed digoxin and given the patient a prescription that will allow refills for 6 months, then require a lab test to check for digoxin level before renewing the prescription.  The PHR can help you keep track of these details.  It should contain a medication list that includes dosages and times taken, last refilled, when a dosage was changed and why.  It should also have a place to include all allergies and reactions to prescription medications, over the counter medicines, vitamins or substances (i.e latex).

Gathering all this information together will give you a good start on a PHR for your loved one.  It may also help you manage their care better and alleviate some of the stress of caring for someone who is ill.

Next week, we will look at how a PHR can help you organize lab and other test results.

For more information on the various types of PHRs please visit 'Choose a PHR' on

Tags   personalhealthrecord, phr, medication

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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