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My Health Counts! Partnering with Your Doctor

Create Your Personal Health Record

Most doctors are pressed for time these days and patients feel like they don't have time to really talk and ask their doctors questions. Rushed doctor visits can leave people with lingering concerns about their treatments or medications.

Quality care happens when people take an active role in their own care, becoming partners with their doctor to create a more effective, trusting relationship that helps them to stay healthy or determine the right care when they need it.

A Personal Health Record (PHR) is a valuable tool that you can use with your doctor and other members of your healthcare team. It will help you make the most of the limited time you have with your doctor and can empower you to become more active in your care and treatment.

An ideal PHR will provide you with a complete and accurate summary of your health and medical history. It contains life-saving information such as medical conditions, emergency contacts, family health history, allergies, blood type, medical test results, lab reports, living wills or health proxies, insurance policy information, immunization dates, medications, charts/x-rays.

Unlike health records and charts, which are controlled and used by your health care providers, personal health records are managed by you--the patient. Some people prefer to record and store their personal health information in a paper format. This low-cost option can be bound with paperclips or stored in a simple notebook. Some people prefer to use an organization system that is commercially produced. Many people prefer to store and update information on their personal computers. The information can then be recorded and stored on a portable storage device such as a smart card or USB flash drive. There are various free forms available to get you started, as well as commercially available software you can purchase. There are also a growing number of internet-based PHRs, but be cautious about putting personal information on the internet. Use whatever system works for you!

Personal health records offer a number of potential benefits. These include:

Empowerment of patients

PHRs let patients manage the information in their medical record and monitor health data about themselves (very useful in chronic disease management).

Improved patient-provider relationships

PHRs improve communication between patients and doctors and other members of their healthcare team. They allow documentation of doctor's visits, diagnostic test results, medications, goals, family health history, and personal health history.

Increased patient safety

PHRs are powerful tools that may provide drug alerts, help identify missed procedures and services. PHRs also give patients timely access to updated care plans.

Improved quality of care

PHRs enable continuous, comprehensive care with better coordination between patients, doctors and other providers.

More efficient delivery of care

PHRs can help avoid duplicative testing and unnecessary services. They provide more efficient communication between patients and doctors (e.g., avoiding congested office phones).

Better safeguards on health information privacy

By giving patients control of access to their records, PHRs offer more selectivity in sharing of personal health information.

Bigger cost savings

While PHRs offer many advantages, they also raise at least two concerns:


Most of us are concerned about the privacy of their health information. Electronic and internet-based PHRs are vulnerable to privacy issues; however, when developed in the right way, PHRs offer security features that can protect patient privacy.


Involving patients not only in viewing and interpreting but also entering their own data raises the issue of data accuracy.

More on personal health records on the web:

Family History: Resources and Tools

Offers valuable information about family health history and includes FAQs, fact sheets and case studies, news articles, multimedia presentations and disease-specific information. (from the CDC, Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention, Family History)


A PHR helps you play a more active role in yours and your loved ones' healthcare. This site guides you through the process of creating your own Personal Health Record. It has free downloadable forms, tools and resources. (from the American Health Information Management Association)