Why should I keep a personal health record?

Dr. Jennifer A. King, MD
Family Practitioner

You should keep a personal health record, because it's very easy to forget dates of medical procedures, results of labs and radiology studies, as well, as it helps you keep track of your preventive care. Keeping track of preventive care is very important because it lets you know the last time you had a physical exam, blood tests, cancer screenings and your immunization status. I keep a personal health record myself, and I definitely recommend keeping a personal health record to all of my patients.

Betty Long, RN, MHA
Nursing Specialist

When all is said and done, no one knows what healthcare reform will bring. Much energy is being directed into computerized, on-line systems, and 'cloud' computing.

But one thing is for sure communication errors in the healthcare system will continue. We encourage all the patients we work with to get copies of any diagnostic testing or blood work that they’ve had done. The more doctors you see, the more medical files you have. And the more scattered your medical records, the higher your risk will be of drug errors, missed diagnoses, allergies and other potentially dangerous glitches. With so many digital templates available, keeping your own set of records just makes good sense. Remember, YOU are in charge of your health and that includes your personal health record!


Your health information is scattered across many different providers and facilities; keeping your own complete, updated and easily accessible personal health record (PHR) means you can play a more active role in your healthcare.

A patient’s PHR offers a different perspective, showing all your health-related information. It can include any information that you think affects your health, including information that your doctor may not have, such as your exercise routines, dietary habits or glucose levels if you are diabetic.

Also, the PHR is a critical tool that enables you to partner with your providers. It can reduce or eliminate duplicate procedures or processes, which saves you healthcare dollars, saves your time and the provider’s time. Further, the information you gather gives you knowledge that assists your preparation for appointments.

With your PHR, you can:

  • knowledgeably 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 doctor instructions, prescriptions, allergies, medications and insurance claims, among other things
  • track appointments, vaccinations and numerous other wellness healthcare services

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When you need medical care, having the right information available can save you time and money. For example, you won't have to duplicate tests that have already been done, or try to remember the dosage of your prescription medications.

Having your records in one convenient place can make it easier to communicate with health care professionals and make sure they are given correct and complete information.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.