How can eHealth tools help me manage my personal medical and health records?
Keeping track of medical records can difficult if your health information is in multiple places or in a format (such as paper) that is difficult to use. This challenge gets harder when working with several doctors to address several health concerns. Your doctor and other health care providers maintain their own medical records about you. But many patients see advantages in also maintaining their own personal health records to record past appointments, test results, prescriptions, and more. Today, many apps and online services exist to make the job of organizing this information easier. And in some cases, these tools also help patients and family caregivers share information among doctors and other family members so everyone is on the same page.
A personal health record (PHR) is similar to the electronic health record (EHR) that your doctor might keep, except that you store your most important health information and control who has access to it. Most PHRs require you to add your own information by scanning documents or typing in information. Many PHRs give you the option of adding information you think is relevant but that your doctor may not have, like information about your over-the-counter medications, exercise habits or sleep schedule. For the most part, these PHRs don’t connect to an employer, health system, or insurer. These systems are typically web based, and available for free or for a small subscription fee.
Some people have access to a patient portal through their employers, health care providers, or insurers. These organizations offer such tools with the goal of increasing patient engagement, which in turn, can improve health outcomes. Such systems typically add certain types of medical information to the patient’s portal automatically, and usually offer patients the option of adding more information on their own. Many organizations offer patients a way to download their health information through a portal system.
Whatever your own situation, you have a federally guaranteed right to see and get a copy of your medical records from most health care providers, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and nursing homes, as well as from your health plan. You have a right to ask that your plan or provider give you this information electronically if your plan or health care provider is able to do so. Learn more about how to access your medical records and about the Blue Button, a simple way for you to access your medical records online through our health care provider or health plan.