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Home > Health Plan Problems? > Health Records > Personal Health Records

Personal Health Records

A personal health record (PHR) is a secure online service to help you take control of your own health.

People use PHRs in different ways.  A PHR can be used as a tool to help you:

  • Save time:  You can schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, or e-mail your doctor for instructions and advice. And, get your lab results online.
  • Save money:  Get advice or instructions online from your doctor or a nurse for a lower cost than an office visit. Save money by getting medication refills online and avoiding trips for supplies or services. Avoid the cost and trouble of repeat tests by sharing test results across doctors online.
  • Stay healthy:  You can track your exercise and diet or test results. Get help through a support group or website on a health issue you care about. Send your vital health signs -- like your blood pressure -- to your doctor from home through a health monitoring machine.
  • Get better care:  Your PHR keeps your records in one place; if you travel or see many doctors, you have easy access to your records, and so do your doctors. Use these services to avoid unnecessary treatment or delays in care.
  • Care for a family member:   Help aging parents or other loved ones with their medical needs -- like using medications correctly, staying on a treatment plan, or adjusting their meals/daily activities to control symptoms. These online services also are a way to connect with all the involved providers to be sure that they are up-to-date about a person’s medications and treatments. And, you can organize records for payments, set reminders for appointments, request medication refills and more.


Where can I find Personal Health Records (PHRs) that are available to me?

You may be able to get a PHR through your health plan, employer, your doctor’s medical group, or a local hospital. Or, you can get a PHR by going online to services that are available to anyone. Some PHRs are free and others charge a monthly fee.

How much work is it to set up a PHR?

The work depends a lot on which PHR best meets your needs and if that service has features to automatically transfer the health information you want.

  • PHRs are online -- you set up a username and password and you can give permission for others like a family member or your doctor to view your records or add information to them.
  • Some PHRs require you to gather and enter information yourself.   If the PHR isn’t electronically connected to the places where your health records are kept (like the doctor’s office or pharmacy), then you must request information from these businesses and enter the information in your PHR.
  • Other PHRs automatically receive your doctor, hospital, lab, and pharmacy records electronically. It may be easier to get your records if your medical providers use Electronic Health Records.  
  • Certain PHRs do part of the set-up job for you and you do the rest. As an example, the PHR may have an arrangement with your pharmacy and you can automatically set up all of your medication records. But, many doctors are not connected to PHR services so you may have to enter parts of your medical history that are important to you.

Protecting Your Privacy

  • Before you get a PHR, you should read its privacy statement.
  • Make sure your online PHR is a secure site.
  • Make sure that other people can only see your PHR if they have your written permission.
  • Make sure that your medical records are uploaded securely. Your records are protected under a U.S. law HIPAA.
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