Benefits of Patient-Generated Health Data to EHR Use

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Patient-generated health data has the power to improve patient care, not just by completing EHR data, but by empowering the patient to engage in their own health.

Between completing EHR information and empowering the patient as a part of the care team, patient-generated health data has the potential to be an integral part of enhancing the overall care for an individual.

The healthcare industry is making headway toward realizing this end in several efforts made to increase the prevalence of patient-generated health data, including using patient-generated data as a part of Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements, underscore its benefits in other health IT-related initiatives.

But what makes patient-generated health data unique? And how can it aid the complete use of EHRs and improve patient care? By taking a look at patient-generated health data and how it’s gathered, we can better understand its overall healthcare benefits:


What is patient-generated health data?

According to the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS), patient-generated health data is any information shared with a provider by a patient. For example, family histories or information about personal medication plans both qualify as patient-generated health data.

Recently, the healthcare industry has pushed to have patient-generated health data be universally collected to help providers get a clearer vision of a patient's health status on their EHR. For example, the Virtual Clipboard project creates the automated integration of patient-generated health data via a patient portal directly into an EHR.

"Once implemented, this automated approach to patient intake and data transmission will significantly improve administrative efficiency - while at same time increasing patient satisfaction," MGMA Director of Health Information Technology Policy Robert Tennant said of the project.

Meaningful use also qualifies as an industry effort to increase patient-generated health data. In the recently-published Stage 3 Meaningful Use rules, CMS calls for increased patient reporting.


Patient-generated health data improves EHR use

Patient-generated health data naturally improves EHR use by adding information that the provider could not have gotten otherwise. For example, when a patient provides information regarding side effects to a new medication regimen, he or she helps the provider fill in valuable data into their EHR. This is data that the physician could not have obtained himself or herself, but still enhances patient care and helps improve overall health in the long run.

"Using electronically collected patient-reported outcomes to capture the review of system outside of the clinic visit may not only improve the efficiency, completeness, and accuracy of data collection for the review of system, but also provide the opportunity to operationalize incorporating the patient's voice into the electronic health record," wrote Arlene E. Chung and Ethan M. Basch in a Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association article.

Patient-generated health data can easily be collected in patient portals, which are integral parts of EHRs. However, it should be noted that these are different from personal health records (PHRs). PHRs are applications and devices used by patients to collect and organize all of their health information, much like the way an EHR does, except it is used and managed by the patient.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), the difference between PHRs and patient portals is the amount of control patients have. On PHRs, patients have complete control over the management of the information. On patient portals, patients are only able to view physician-managed information and communicate with the physician.

However, this communication with physicians is vital in providing physicians with critical information, helping to increase patient-generated health data.


Patient-generated health data empowers the patient

Another result of patient-generated health data is the inclusion of the patient as a part of the care team. Because the patient is supplying data to the physician, the two inevitably become partners in patient care, empowering the patient in their health.

For example, as explained in a blog post, Donna Cryer, a liver transplant survivor and health IT advocate, explained her experience with patient-generated health data through mHealth.

By delivering information regarding her health following her liver transplant, Cryer and her physicians were able to work together to create her care plan.

"All my physicians need to be able to communicate with each other and with me about my care, and to share my complete medical record. Interacting with these physicians generates data from dozens of visits, images, lab tests, and procedure reports that need to be reviewed, evaluated, and acted on in a timely fashion," Cryer explained.

Completing the care team by empowering the patient through patient-generated health data yields positive results because the patient feels secure and encouraged to take a stand in managing their care. Because of this, patients may take better care of themselves, report more important information, and seek help when needed, resulting in better delivery of care.


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