To be actively involved in your own medical care, you need to understand the basics about electronic medical records, health information exchanges, and more. Check out our primer.
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A personal health record, which may contain patient-entered, clinical, and/or insurance claim data, can help you store, manage, and share your personal health information on a secure website. This can be especially beneficial in an emergency or when you see a physician who is unfamiliar with your medical history. If you choose to share your PHR with your regular physician, the information may help that provider diagnose and treat you.
PHRs come in two varieties. One kind is "tethered" to a healthcare system, a large physician group, an employer, or an insurance company, and contains only data assembled by that organization or entered by you. The other kind, in contrast, allows you to build your own PHR with data that you have entered or uploaded from your providers' EHRs or other sources. Microsoft HealthVault is an example of this type of PHR. This approach gives you more control over the data, but you may have to enter the key information manually from printouts of your medical records if your providers do not supply it electronically.