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Why You Should Have a Personal Health Record

Why You Should Have a Personal Health Record

Do you have your immunization history committed to memory? Can you recall the date of your last X-ray or test results from years ago? Unless you’ve had the same health care provider since birth, it can be difficult to keep track of years of doctor’s appointments, procedures or surgeries.

Collecting the pieces of your health care history and compiling them into a personal health record can help improve quality of care and keep costs low. Unlike medical records that are kept by your doctor, a personal health record is kept and maintained by the patient.

What’s in a PHR?

A personal health record may include the following1:

  • Your name, birth date, blood type and emergency contact
  • Date of last physical
  • Dates and results of tests and screenings
  • Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates
  • A list of your medicines, dosages and how long you've taken them
  • Any allergies
  • Any chronic diseases
  • Any history of illnesses in your family

Why is a PHR helpful?

The American Health Information Management Association lists these ways a PHR can make a difference in your medical care2:

  • Knowledgably discuss your health with healthcare providers
  • Provide information to new caregivers
  • Have easy access to your health information while traveling
  • Access your information when your doctor’s office is closed
  • Record your progress toward specific health-related goals
  • Refer to physician instructions, prescriptions, allergies, medications, insurance claims, and more
  • Track appointments, vaccinations, and numerous other wellness healthcare services

Learn more about PHRs through the AHIMA’s Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a PHR?

You may choose to keep paper or electronic files, or you can use an online or app-based PHR service. Some options include, but are not limited to, the following websites and apps:

The American Health Information Management Association’s MyPHR.com can help you choose a personal health record method that is right for you and will guide you to options that are paper-based, software-based, web-based, free or for purchase.

Start by filling in the information you know and have on hand. You will then want to contact health care providers you’ve seen to obtain copies of your health care records. A release form may need to be filled out, and a small fee may be charged to cover copy costs.

Read more about health information privacy and your medical records at HHS.gov

Having quick access to your health information can help you take charge of your health care and be an advocate for yourself and your family. It ensures you have the information you need when you need it and makes it easy to share that information with your various health care providers.


1 MedlinePlus. “Personal Health Records.” Last updated May 21, 2014.
2 MyPHR.com. “Why Should You Keep a Personal Health Record?” N.D.