Can I keep my own personal health records (PHR)?

More and more people are using personal health records (PHRs) to manage their health information and become full partners in the quest for good health. PHRs are different from electronic health records (EHRs). Information in an EHR is typically entered by and accessed by health care providers. A PHR is a record controlled by the individual and may include health information from a variety of sources, including multiple health care providers and the patients themselves.

Electronic PHRs are increasingly being offered to patients through health plans, health care providers, employers, and independent vendors. These tools offer a wide variety of features for obtaining, storing, and understanding health information.

There are two kinds of PHRS:

  1. Standalone PHRs let patients fill in the information from their own records and memories. The data is stored on the patients' computers or on the internet. Patients can decide whether to share the information with providers, family members, or anyone else involved in their care. In some cases, information can be downloaded from other sources into the PHR.
  2. Tethered, Connected PHRs are linked to a specific health care organization's EHR system or a health plan's information system. The patient accesses the information through a secure portal. Typically, patients can view information such as lab results, immunization history or due dates for certain screenings. When a PHR is connected to the patient's legal medical record it is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.
Content last reviewed on May 21, 2019
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