Personal Health Records (PHRs)
(Are you a reader of the newspaper column, Every Patient's Advocate? If you'd like to read the column which refers to this page, link here.)
Personal Health Records are just what they describe themselves to be -- a way for you to manage medical and health records for future use.
There are three basic ways to store your records. If you rarely leave your local area, then a paper-based system may be the only method you need. If, however, you travel away from home, and could run into health or medical challenges (even an accident!) while you are away, you may want to consider an electronic method for keeping your records.
1. Paper-based: using folders, envelopes, binders and/or a file cabinet, you can keep your records together for future reference. File by dates, by medical problem, or in any way that makes sense to you. Be sure to show your trusted loved ones where they are kept in case you have a problem later and can't access them yourself.
While you may be able to figure out a good way to store them yourself, the American Health Information Management Society (AHIMS) also provides access to a number of paper-based systems which can help you be sure you've covered all the important bases. They vary in price, including many that are free. Link here for access to their list.
2. Electronic, non-internet: Using disks, thumb (travel) drives or even just your local hard drive on your computer, you can keep track of your medical records electronically. You'll probably need to input the information yourself since fewer than 10 percent of doctor's offices can interface with patient-kept electronic systems.
By keying in the information, or scanning it, you'll keep all the records you might need at a future date in a pass coded software program. Pricing varies depending on the system. AHIMS also provides a list of these software programs. Link here for access to their list.
3. Electronic, internet-based: If you don't want to carry a thumb drive or disk with you when you travel, you can keep your records online, for passcoded access when you need it. Be sure to review security measures for these types of programs. You'll want to be sure that the "wrong" people can't get a hold of the information -- unless you want them to. Link here for access to the AHIMS list.