Personal Health Record - (PHR)


An electronic Personal Health Record (ePHR) is a universally accessible, layperson comprehensible, lifelong tool for managing relevant health information, promoting health maintenance and assisting with chronic disease management via an interactive, common data set of electronic health information and e-health tools. The ePHR is owned, managed, and shared by the individual or his or her legal proxy(s) and must be secure to protect the privacy and confidentiality of the health information it contains. It is not a legal record unless so defined and is subject to various legal limitations” - HIMSS

Keeping your own personal health record (PHR) allows you to provide doctors with valuable information that can help improve the quality of care you receive. A PHR can help reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and allow you to receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency. In short, a PHR helps you play a more active role in yours and your loved ones’ healthcare. A Personal Health Record (PHR) is a medical record that is maintained by the patient. The patient is given an electronic source for storing personal health information, conditions, medications, health care providers and any other information regarding their personal health and medical history to name a few. PHRs have been used for both an electronic and paper processing, although electronic is preferred. The patient may fill in information, storing it in a HealthVault or similar application that acts as a repository for patients to maintain information. This information can then be printed prior to going to a doctor's appointment or have the medical professional access it directly. Personal Health Records are not the same as an Electronic Health Record (EHR) for the reason that EHRs are legally binding notes that are recorded by the medical professional and cannot be altered by the patient. PHRs empower and encourage the patient to become more involved in their medical care by giving them a means to record their own personal health histories.

PHR Benefits
  • Basis for planning your care and treatment
  • Means by which doctors, nurses, and others caring for you can talk to one another about your needs
  • Legal document describing the care you received
  • Verification that services billed were actually provided
  • Patient can record their own medical histories.
  • Sharing of information with medical professionals.
  • Patient self monitoring of their current conditions by having a visualization of their medical history.
  • Electronic transfers of information.
  • Improvement in case management

PHR Concerns
  • Will the physician actually take the patients records into consideration?
  • Will the patient accurately compile information?
  • Actual integration of a PHR with a EHR.
  • Patient security.
  • Privacy Issues
  • Learning curve
  • Cost

Criteria for the Internet Application of a PHR
  • Privacy - The website has a published privacy polciy that protects individuals information. Privacy refers to the unauthorized secodary usage of information. It needs to indicate that it meets HIPAA requirements.
  • Security - Passwords, authentication mechanisms, secure connections.
  • Usability - Features avaliable on teh site. The PHR should provide ability for a non-technical or not IT-related individual to easily join, navigate and enter information.
  • Portability - The ability to be able to move current records from one provider to another provider. This can be done, via paper or electronic.
  • Complete - Information fields avaliable in the records. The PHR should capture, demographics, health behaviors, social history, family health history, allergies, medications, lab results, past medical care, current existing conditions, physician information, insurance information and etc.
  • Vendor Reliability - reliability and history of vendor. Vendor linked to pr partnering with sponsoring national organization provide more stability.
  • Access / Avaliability - Consumer's ability to access and manage their personal record via the web.


  1. Being able to track your health conditions via an electronic application that can be accessed or printed out for you medical professional. These changes or health conditions may also be a tool that they provider can use in helping to determine family medical histories by using multiple PHRs from family members.
  2. Patients using PHRs become more aware of their personal health which could lead to a patient making better health choices.
  3. Information can be readily accessed by the patient and by the patient provider.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:

  • Personal Medical Record
  • Family Medical Record
  • Electronic Health Record
  • Health Record Bank
  • HealthVault
  • Personal Health Record System
  • Electronic Medical Record
  • Continuity of Care Record
  • Clinical Care Record
  • Clinical Data Repository
  • Computerised Medical Record
  • Computerised Patient Record
  • Digital Medical Record
  • Electronic Health Care Record
  • Multimedia Patient Record

Electronic Health Record Graphic Examples
Personal Health Record (PHR) keepers are more active online health researchers.