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Progress Report from the MLA-NLM Task Force on Electronic Personal Health Records

Posted by on October 15th, 2008 Posted in: All Posts


The joint MLA-NLM Task Force was commissioned with the goal of assessing opportunities for integration of live and virtual information assistance into electronic personal health records products. The work of the Task Force has progressed on two fronts: identification and examination of PHR tools and development of ways to better integrate PHRs and the library community.

The Task Force defined the “personal health record” (PHR) and investigated PHRs meeting this definition. Approximately 90 PHRs were identified.

Electronic Personal Health Record (PHR) Definition: A PHR is a private, secure application through which an individual may access, manage and share his/her health information. The PHR can include information that is entered by the consumer and/or data from other sources such as pharmacies, labs, and care providers. The PHR might or might not include information
from the electronic health record (EHR) which is maintained by the health care provider and is not synonymous with the HER. PHR sponsors include vendors who may or may not charge a fee, health care organizations such as hospitals and health insurance companies, or employers.

In support of better integration of PHRs and the library community, the Task Force wrote an information assistance statement for inclusion in PHR products. The model statement instructs users to connect to MedlinePlus and two MLA consumer health Web sites for quality consumer health information. It also
tells users how to contact medical librarians through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) 1-800-338-7657 toll-free number and what services to expect when they do so. Letters requesting inclusion of the assistance statement have been sent to seven vendors (Medem, Access Strategies, AHIMA,
CapMed, Microsoft, Google, Tolven Health Care Innovations) as part of a pilot project.

To increase librarian awareness of these potential new users, the Task Force will present posters at the South Central and Mid-Continental Chapter meetings during fall 2008. As a first effort, the Task Force chair presented information about the project during the March 2008 NN/LM Regional Medical Library All Staff Teleconference. Further, the task force is collaborating with the MLA Health Information Literacy Research Project, other MLA CE instructors and in the near future the NN/LM consumer health coordinators.

To better understand current librarian-PHR roles, the group conducted an informal survey using library discussion lists. Respondents reported several roles, including: 1) assisting patients in registering for an organization’s PHR (My HealtheVet, Kaiser Permanente), 2) training employees in the use of an organization’s PHR (My HealtheVet), and 3) providing staff with information and documents about how use of PHRs might reduce costs, inform consumers, and benefit the institution.

Please contact a member of the task force listed below if you have questions or comments.

Joint Task Force Members

Dixie A. Jones, Chair, VA
Michael Ackerman, NLM
Joan S. Ash, Oregon Health and Science University
Patti Corbett-Bregman, Wolters Kluwer
Taneya Koonce, Vanderbilt University
Daphne Plaut, Kaiser Permanente
Catherine R. Selden, NLM
David Sweet, AHIMA
Carla Funk, MLA Staff Liaison
Jean Shipman, MLA Board of Directors’ Liaison

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