Harvard Heart Letter

Make your health information personal

Collecting your health records in one place is a good idea.

 The stories we tell — about youthful mishaps, falling in love, working, playing — shape how others see us. That certainly holds true for our health stories. Unfortunately, this tale is one that few people take the time to put together. That's understandable. Assembling a personal health record involves collecting your information from each of your doctors, pharmacies, labs, and hospitals. These records may be scattered all over town, or even across the country. Then you must decipher the records and stitch them together. Finally, you have to find a good way to store the information. Each of these can be a daunting task.

Why go through this aggravation and effort? "Creating a personal health record makes you the master of your health information, and helps ensure that the information is more complete," says Dr. John Halamka, the chief information officer of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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