Champion Home Health Care recently discussed the importance of having a PHR, personal health record. This is a collection of your personal health history including doctor visits, medications, blood work, procedures, etc. Having all of this information in one place helps you stay an informed consumer and allows you to make the best decisions regarding your health. PHRs are valuable tools for caregivers as well. Caregivers often feel overwhelmed because they are thinking not only of themselves and their immediate family but also about a beloved senior. Compiling data for anyone you care for allows you to stay on top of appointments and medical questions. It puts power in your hands and allows you to become and stay knowledgeable. Now that you know that a PHR is, let’s dive deeper. Below you will find steps to help you create a PHR of your own.

Begin by contacting any and all doctors you or your loved one visits. This is the first step in creating your customized PHR. Remember, you are in control. You have the right to ask for medical information. When you speak to the office staff, ask if the medical records are in electronic format or hardcopies. If the information is electronic, it can be sent to you. If the data you need is not, you will need to obtain paper copies. You can then scan these into your computer or compile the hard copies in a binder or box. You will need to fill out a release form and it could take up to 60 days for your information to get to you and you may be charged for paper copies if you request them.

Once you have all the information you need, you get to decide how it will be put together. Some records may not be electronic, in this case, a binder is a great choice. You can create a section for each member of your family and any person/persons you provide care for. You can also scan paper records into your computer and keep them stored there for ease of access. Electronic records can be stored on a thumb drive or you can utilize a web based storage system. Microsoft Health Vault and WebMD Health Manager are both FREE online services you can use. There are several others as well. Click here for more options.

Now that you have all of the necessary data in one place, be sure to bring it with you to doctor visits. If you do not want to carry all the info with you every time, a small card with the most important information on it is a great substitute. You can include things like current medications, recent test results, and any medical needs.