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Lessons from natural disasters like hurricane Katrina, first-time visits with a new doctor and the unexpected visit to a hospital while away on vacation teach us that everyone should have ready access to their personal health information. Due to its sensitive nature, this information must be maintained in a secure fashion yet able to be rapidly retrieved. With this vital information always on hand, individuals and families are able to make well-informed decisions about their care.
Characteristics of a PHR:
An internet-based Personal Health Record gives people secure access to their personal health information and the ability to easily share it as they wish. Unlike the medical record controlled by a doctor, a Personal Health Record (PHR) is controlled by the individual who has created it and it contains information from multiple sources including various doctors, laboratories, and pharmacies. In addition a PHR should contain relevant data added by its owner such as Allergy History, Family History, and Social History. It is for this reason that a PHR is typically more comprehensive than the medical record managed by any one doctor.
Internet-based PHR:
In the past many people stored their important medical records in notebooks, folders or boxes. To be truly useful, a PHR needs to be available whenever you may need it including those times when you are least likely to be prepared. Maintaining one's PHR with an internet-based service like has many advantages over the typical paper-based collection of records. An internet-based electronic PHR is secured with password protection, accessed from anywhere that the internet is available, and copied or distributed with a few mouse clicks. is a welcome solution to the problem of always having your PHR accessible.
Creating a PHR:
Consolidating your personal health information into a PHR is of major importance.'s "Fax it & Forget it" service provides a simple yet effective solution to the problem of gathering and combining your personal health information into one PHR. Just distribute your personal toll-free "lifeline" telephone number to your physicians' offices, hospital medical records department and other entities that store parts of your personal health information.

After receiving a written request from you and your personal "lifeline" telephone number, all of these entities will be able to use their fax machines to quickly fill your PHR with vital information! Until the availability of the "Fax it & Forget it" service by, finding, gathering and combining health information into one PHR seemed nearly impossible. Keep in mind, your physicians, your hospital and the other facilities that hold a portion of your medical record do not own your personal health information; these entities should be thought of as custodians of the records. They will release your records to you via fax or photocopy when requested to do so.

With an internet-based PHR all set, you no longer will have to worry about incomplete personal health information while making an important healthcare decision or being unable to recall medical history while visiting a new doctor's office. By creating and maintaining your PHR at you will help yourself make the most informed healthcare decisions.

-- This article was written by Dr. William Goodman, a member of the Medical Board of Advisors