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Five things to know about your personal health information

Your personal health information is a valuable resource to you, your family, and the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who provide your treatment and care.

As Health Information Privacy and Security Week approaches, April 9-15, the health information management professionals at Thomson Manor Health Care Center outline five things you need to know about your personal health information:

Each of your healthcare providers compiles a separate medical record on you. This means your complete history probably cannot be found in any one place. By keeping your own personal health record, you can provide your doctors with valuable information that can improve the quality of care you receive. A PHR can help reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and allow you to receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency.

Federal laws are in place to protect the privacy and give you access rights to your health information. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, you can view, request changes to, and obtain copies of health information documents collected and kept about you.

Your information can only be seen by those who need it in order to provide your treatment, to facilitate payment for healthcare services, and to make sure quality care is being received. Your information may also be used for research and as a legal document in cases where evidence of care is needed. Anyone else who wants to use it for any other purpose needs your permission first.

The healthcare industry and the federal government are working to improve healthcare through the use of information technology. This is done through the use of electronic health records and a secure system that would allow EHRs to be shared across healthcare systems and providers to allow you greater access to your health information. Currently most healthcare providers still manage medical records in a paper format.

At healthcare organizations across the nation, health information management professionals are working to maintain your health record. These professionals are responsible for ensuring your health record is accurate, complete, confidential, and available when you, your doctor, and other healthcare professionals need access to the information.

Health Information Privacy and Security Week is sponsored by the American Health Information Management Association and supported in part by CBay Systems. The week is designed to raise awareness among the public about the importance of personal health information privacy and security. For more information about your personal health information privacy rights, visit

Web posted on Thursday, April 13, 2006

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