This chapter explores the benefits and limitations of personal health records (PHRs) as a tool to promote transparency in health care. A PHR can be defined as “an electronic application through which individuals can access, manage and share their health information . . . in a private, secure, and confidential environment.” PHRs can enhance efficiency, communication, data accuracy, and health outcomes. At the same time, they can disrupt the physician-patient relationship and raise liability concerns. For example, PHRs may induce patients and physicians to rely on electronic communication when office visits would be far more appropriate. The chapter analyzes the impact of PHRs on health care and develops recommendations designed to maximize their benefits and minimize their risks. The author provides guidance as to how health care providers can implement thoughtful electronic messaging and data release policies, enhance the accuracy of medical records, and offer educational programs to help patients navigate the technology.


personal health records, physician-patient relationship, transparency, data accuracy, medical liability, secure messaging, and medical data release

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in Transparency in Health and Health Care in the United States: Law and Ethics (Cambridge University Press forthcoming 2018)


COinS Sharona Hoffman Faculty Bio