Organize Your Health Data Online

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Managing your health care records – and those of your family – can be complicated, especially if you’re juggling information from several different sources. They may include doctors’ offices, insurance companies, pharmacies, labs, health savings accounts, and more. That’s why millions of Americans are beginning to use health information technology. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is encouraging health providers and patients to use electronic record-keeping to manage and share health information.

According to HHS, the benefits of going digital with your health data include access to records in an emergency situation, reducing medication errors, and improving coordination among multiple caregivers. All of this can help improve the quality of care you receive. Federal laws require policies and security safeguards to protect your health information – whether it is stored on paper or electronically.

An electronic health record (EHR) is a digital version of the paper chart doctors and nurses traditionally use. It allows health providers to easily store and look up your health information and share it with specialists if necessary to ensure everyone who's caring for you knows important details of your medical information. Some EHRs allow you to log into a secure web portal to view your own records, lab results, and treatment plan, and email your doctor.

A personal health record (PHR) is created by you to organize health information from a variety of sources, including reports from health care providers and personal information like diet and exercise logs. You can keep these health records in the form of paper files, but electronic PHR programs are becoming more available through health plans, health care providers, employers, and independent vendors. These tools offer features for obtaining, storing, and understanding health information.

Blue Button is a tool that lets users view and download electronic copies of their own health information from many different sources so they can better understand and track their health. If they choose, they can share it with their doctors or other people they trust. Veterans and Medicare beneficiaries were the first to use Blue Button, and now other government agencies and private companies have started to use it, too.

To help users get started, HHS has created the Blue Button Connector, a website that allows you to search for your providers. However you choose to keep track of your medical information – whether online or in paper – you have a federally guaranteed right (called "right to access") to get copies of your health records in the format you prefer – either on paper or electronically.

For a list of tools you can use to manage your medical information, visit: healthit.gov/patients-families/ehealth.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.


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