I’m still not clear on the difference between EMRs (electronic medical records) and EHRs (electronic health records), but now we have PHRs (personal health records). At least PHRs I think I understand.

Back to the first two: I’ve read where there’s no difference between EMRs and EHRs except that EHR is designed to be more marketing friendly for some reason. I’ve also read where EMRs are patients’ electronic records maintained at one location while EHRs are shared electronic records available across a network.

Whatever the case may be, the stimulus package from our lawmakers includes a bundle of dough to implement EMRs and/or EHRs. (Could this be like Betamax v. VHS or Blu-Ray v. HD-DVD?)

However the stimulus package implementation turns out, and we won’t know for years, PHRs are available right now on both Google and MSN. A personal health record is something that the individual chooses to create on one of those providers (I think WebMD offers PHRs as well).

Security issues aside, people have expressed fears that these providers might sell your data to pharmaceutical and other health marketing companies. Google denies this, if you trust what Google says.

Still, this is pretty exciting when you factor in IBM’s development of Continua-compatible software, which you can use to upload your vital data to your PHR, where your physician can access it and make recommendations. Already, a pulse oximeter is available (whatever that is), and future devices will measure blood pressure, glucose levels, temperature, weight and so on. In other words, instead of going in for a physical, you can update your data and have your doctor analyze it.

Now, the question is–will physicians go along with this since they can’t charge for an office consultation if you don’t come in person? I doubt it unless the rules are changed so they can charge for e-visits.

Wouldn’t it be great to sit at work, take your uploadable blood pressure, and sit back and wait for your doctor to call and say, “I think we need to change your Lisinopril level.” Sure beats taking a morning off and waiting around two hours for your doctor to get to you.