A Personal Health Record (PHR) is created to benefit consumers and they are encouraged to be more active in their own health care. Being better informed about health care helps generate more concern and activity by individuals. PHRs are also a place where your personal health information is stored and they can help when managing a chronic medical condition or even prescriptions. A PHR is not the same as an EHR (electronic health record).

What is included in a PHR?

There can be different information included in a PHR, but there are some basic types of information that is likely to be included like:

  • Medical history
  • Prescriptions, dosages and refills
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Drug alerts
  • Immunization records
  • Treatment plans designed by physicians

Many times a PHR will include various information that is beneficial for the patient. This might be a secure email address, links to sites with important medical information or other support options.

Who Generates a PHR?

Information is not automatically stored in a PHR. Some states regulate what and how information is entered. No matter what you always have access to copies of medical records. You may need to request your records from a health care provider in order to ensure they are included in your PHR. According to HIPAA, you can ask for your medical records in any format you prefer: paper, microfilm or electronic.

What form is my PHR stored in?

PHRs can be electronic or paper. Electronic records are stored on a variety of media like computers, thumb drives, cds or web-storage options. Paper records are easier to secure in some ways but electronic records are much more convenient, easier to update, maintain and access. The primary forms used for storing PHRs include:

  • Paper
  • Personal Computer
  • Internet
  • Smartphone Apps
  • PHR Smart Card

The type of privacy protection provided depends on where a PHR originated. Doctors and other health professionals are still subject to providing the tightest security on individual health records.