High-Tech Tools to Manage Your Health Information
Even if you don’t use a computer, there are new ways to help manage your health information and improve how you and your health care providers communicate. This electronic technology (also called Health Information Technology or Health IT) can help improve the quality of your health care. It can also reduce paperwork, medical errors, and health care costs.
Here are two examples of Health IT that your health care providers might already be using:
Electronic Prescribing—An electronic way for your prescribers to write and send your prescriptions directly to your pharmacy.
Electronic prescribing can help you save money.· Providers can instantly check which drugs are covered under your insurance plan, so they can prescribe a covered drug that costs you less.Electronic prescribing can help you save time.· You no longer have to drop off a paper prescription and wait for the pharmacist to fill it. In most cases, your electronic prescription will be ready when you arrive.· There are fewer phone calls and faxes between your provider and your pharmacy. This means you get your prescriptions sooner.Electronic prescribing can help keep you safe.· Electronic prescriptions are easier for the pharmacist to read than handwritten prescriptions. This means there’s less chance of prescription mistakes.· Prescribers will have secure access to your prescription history, so they can immediately alert your provider to potential drug interactions, allergies, or other health risks.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs)—An EHR is a safe and confidential computer record of your health care history and treatment that is used by your doctor, your doctor’s staff, or a hospital. If your health care providers use EHRs, they can join a network to securely share your health records with other providers that treat you. This is sometimes called “health information exchange.” Remember, just like your paper records, EHRs are protected by state and federal privacy laws, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
EHRs can help improve the quality and efficiency of your health care in the following ways:
· Providing an instant medical history. This could be especially helpful in urgent care situations or when you are unable to provide information yourself, such as during an emergency room visit or if you are unconscious.
· Allowing all your doctors and other providers to see the same up-to-date information about your condition, treatments, tests, and prescriptions so they can better coordinate your care.
· Helping to lower the chances of medical errors and duplicate tests and treatments.Here are several examples of Health IT that you, the consumer, can use:
Personal Health Records (PHRs)—A collection of health information kept on a computer and maintained and updated by you or someone helping you. A PHR provides a downloadable, easy reference to your health history and personal information that you choose to enter such as health insurance coverage, contact information for your physicians and pharmacies, and other information described below.· These easy‑to‑use tools can help you manage your health information from anywhere you have internet access.· With your permission, some providers and health plans are able to enter information into your PHR to help you maintain a complete picture of your health.· Even if your provider doesn’t enter information directly into your PHR, you can enter and track important health information yourself such as major illnesses or operations, allergies, a current list of your prescription medications, or the date of your last physical examination.· PHRs are often offered by providers, health plans, and private companies. Some PHRs are free, while others may charge you a fee. To learn more about PHRs and to find one that might be helpful to you, visit www.myphr.comIf you decide to use a PHR, you will want to be sure your records are being kept on a secure Web site. With a secure Web site, you usually have to create your own user ID and password, and the information you type is encrypted (meaning that it’s kept private by using a secret code) so other people can’t read it.
There are Federal and state laws that protect the privacy and security of your information. PHRs that aren’t sponsored or maintained by health plans or health care providers may not have privacy rules. When choosing a PHR, always read the sponsor’s privacy and security policies and be sure you understand them. Visit www.medicare.gov/phr to learn more.
MyMedicare.gov—Part of the Medicare.gov web site, MyMedicare.gov is a free and secure site where you can check the status of your eligibility, enrollment, and other Medicare benefits. It also allows you to access your claims information once they are processed by Medicare. The site also provides you with preventive health information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit www.mymedicare.gov and sign up today.
Medicare’s “Blue Button”—MyMedicare.gov has a new “Blue Button” feature that gives you the ability to download your Medicare claims and self-entered personal information and health information such as emergency contact information, names of pharmacies and providers, self-reported allergies, medical conditions, and prescription drugs.
After logging on to the secure www.MyMedicare.gov site, you can click the Blue Button and download a computer file of your claims data and personal and health information that you can share, on paper or in digital form, with health care providers, caregivers, and family members. The file may also be imported into a PHR that can accept the format.
· Having ready access to information from Medicare claims and self-entered personal health information can help you more fully understand your medical history and partner more effectively with providers.
· The Blue Button data file also can be imported into other health management tools, such as one of the PHR tools described above and available in the market place today. To find a PHR that can upload the blue button file, visit www.myphr.com
· The Blue Button is safe, secure, reliable and easy to use!Visit www.mymedicare.gov to sign up for your account and use the Blue Button today!