A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of information about your health. It is different from an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR), which are owned and stored by your healthcare provider.
A PHR is a document that you are in charge of-one that you compile, update, and keep. It can simply be a folder full of papers, but people are increasingly turning to electronic personal health record systems. These store health information in a secure location online that you can access anytime
Why do I need one?
hand holding a smartphone displaying a medications listAnytime you move, switch healthcare providers, or seek medical treatment during a vacation, you will be asked to provide your health history. It can be difficult to remember all of this information. Having a PHR on hand means you know the answer when you are asked when your last tetanus shot was or the dosage of your medications.
PHRs can also save you in an emergency situation. Consider this example: If you were to experience a health emergency at work, or on a trip with friends, would your companions be able to answer questions about your health history and current healthcare provider? In a time of crisis, it can be difficult to remember important and potentially life-saving information; a PHR can do that work for you.
How does it work?
You create a PHR online through the system of your choice and then either print off a copy or pull the record up on your web-enabled device to present to your healthcare provider. Some online PHR systems can be automatically accessed by medical personnel; others will offer a printed ID card with a password, should you be unconscious or unable to access your record yourself in an emergency situation.
How do I create one?
Start first with your health insurance company. Many offer a PHR online tool on their website. However, check to make sure that you can transfer your information if you need to switch insurance companies.
Other PHR online systems are available. A good free one is Microsoft’s Healthvault . You can create an account through the Mayo Clinic website .
hands typing on a laptop keyboard
What kind of information should I put in my PHR?
- Emergency contacts
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your healthcare providers, including specialists and dentists
- Health insurance information, such as the name of your insurance company and key phone numbers for service
- Current medications and dosages
- Allergies (to foods, drugs and other substances)
- Important events, dates, and hereditary conditions in your family history
- A list and dates of significant illnesses and surgical procedures
- Results from recent doctor visits
- Important tests results; eye and dental records, immunization records
- Any information you want to include about your health – such as your exercise regimen, any over-the-counter or herbal medications you take and any counseling you may receive.
What about privacy?