Personal health records (PHRs) are consumer-centric tools that can strengthen consumers' ability to actively manage their own health and health care . Although the capabilities of PHRs vary significantly in the current marketplace, they typically include provisions to capture information about an individual's diagnoses, medications, allergies, lab test results, immunization records, and other personal health information. Many PHRs also provide linkages to convenience tools (e.g., requesting appointments, requesting prescription renewals, asking billing questions) and communication tools to assist the patient in connecting with various health care professionals (e.g., physicians, nurses, pharmacists [2-5].
The concept of a PHR is not new . What we now refer to as personal health records (PHRs) arose from low-technology solutions that individuals and families have used for many decades because they needed one place to record and access their complete medical history. Paper-based documents including clinical notes accumulated from various care providers, laboratory reports, and health histories are often compiled by health care consumers in envelopes, loose-leaf binders or shoe boxes. Generations of parents have used baby books to collect basic information on post-natal care, child development, medical consultations, and immunizations. Health information wallet cards are used by consumers to carry emergency medical contacts, blood type, and allergies. MedicAlert™ bracelets have become one of the most widespread ways to communicate basic health data to health professionals who might become involved with the patient needing emergency care.