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Military PHRs: One Major's opinion

June 13, 2008
by kate
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Have a nagging cough? Ask a doctor. Want an opinion on military PHRs? Ask a Marine.

Last week, I noticed a news release stating that the Military Health System plans to equip all 9.2 million members with PHRs as early as next year (to read the brief, click here). The story piqued my interest, but instead of giving my own thoughts on the subject, I decided to consult someone who knows far more about the military health system than I do. My brother Dan is a Marine of 12 years, whose experiences have run the gamut from serving a tour in Afghanistan to training with the forces of Chile and Peru.

He's always shown an interest in the health IT topics that I've covered, so when something crossed my desk that impacts his line of work, I wanted his take. The reply he gave me wasn't necessarily surprising, but it was both interesting and refreshing. I often find that getting a different perspective can improve my understanding of a subject area or just clarify things a bit. It's kind of like how the comments that resonate most from EMR/PHR conferences usually aren't those heard during demos or even debates on why adoption isn't where it should be (and whose fault that is). Instead, the real gems are those heard in casual conversations with attendants or speakers when they are able to let their guard down and just tell it like it is.

That was the case during my brief exchange with my brother. I asked him whether he honestly through having an EMR while serving overseas would be helpful and would impact him directly, or if it was something he didn't really have a strong opinion on one way or another.

This is what he said: "Personally, I'm glad to hear about the electronic makeover of health records. In my opinion, the realities of this age make it a no-brainer to have access to your records when your location can change day-to-day and it's completely impractical to lug around meaty record books with you."

Now, I do have to add the disclaimer that this is not an official statement and is not to be interpreted as a reflection of the Marine Corps' views; this was just a sibling asking another sibling for an experienced view of something that one of us — make that, both of us — feel is a pretty important topic.

It’s a different spin on the usual EMR/PHR talk featured in most healthcare IT publications, but it’s one that I think certainly warrants attention… maybe just a little more so for those of us with more of a vested interest in the care of Marines. As “the Major” would say, Semper Fi!

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