An emergency Personal Health Record (PHR) should be your family’s first priority in your emergency preparedness plan.

Disaster can strike with little or no warning, Wildfires Engulf Homesgiving us little or no time to prepare.  Floods, hurricanes, fire, earthquakes or other natural disasters all pose serious concerns.  How well we prepare ourselves in advance of disaster will be determine the extent of how our needs are met.

As witnessed in recent years, natural disasters or emergency situations can occur anywhere at anytime.

Hurricane DamageIn the wake of Hurrican Katrina in 2005, Americans witnessed just how fragile paper based health record systems really are.  Public health and medical response personnel were faced with the challenge of meeting the health care needs of the victims of Katrina.  Meeting the immediate medical needs of the injured or those with chronic conditions without access to their medical records was one of the greatest challenges.  Trying to care for the thousands who were displaced by the hurricane was hampered by the loss of access to their medical records as well.

Prepare your family for possible emergencies or natural disasters.  To learn more about preparing an emergency personal health record PHR click here or view this prezi  —

Why You Should Start a Personal Health Record



Starting and keeping a personal health history is probably easier than you think. Although this might look like a daunting task at first, it is really quite easy once you get started. 

Begin by organizing all of the health information you have at home. Gather all information from:

  • Files at home containing information from physician visits or hospital admissions
  • Pertinent information that might be contained in billing records from physician or hospital visits
  • Identification cards or immunization records prepared by health care providers
  • Information provided by your pharmacy or with the prescriptions you receive
  • Information contained in insurance billings or other documents
  • All other sources or pertinent records containing relevent personal and family health history   

Once you have this information in a single location you are ready to begin building a personal health record (PHR).  You are also entitled to copies of all personal health information maintained by your physician or health care provider. You will want to discuss with them what information they have on file and how to obtain copies for your records as well.

Learn more about obtaining your health information from health care providers by reading Dave deBronkart’s ( @ePatientDave on Twitter  )  blog article entitled      “Gimme My D*** Data “.    

Managing your health information is like balancing your checkbook….it will become easier if you work on maintaining and updating your information regularly.

Gather information, organize it and share it on a regular basis with your health care providers.

 Most people don’t realize that it is unusual to find a complete record of all of their personal health information.  Our personal health information is not usually found in any single location or even in consistent format.   As we gather complete and accurate personal health information for our families and ourselves we create a personal health record or PHR.   This PHR is a resource that will help us take an active role in the quality of our health care.   It is important to gather and share this information with our health care providers to fill in the gaps that exist in our medical records.

Your personal health record (PHR) should be a collection of important information about your health (or the health of someone you are caring for) which you actively gather, maintain and update.  The information that your PHR should include (but is not limited to):

  • Personal identification (name, birth date and demographics) 
  • Emergency contacts 
  • Names and contact information of your physician, dentist, eye doctor, and any other specialists
  • Health insurance information
  • Living wills, advance directives, or medical power of attorney
  • List and dates of significant illnesses, injuries and surgical procedures
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Herbal supplements and pertinent dietary information
  • Drug allergies or sensitivity and other allergies 
  • Pertinent family history information
  • Important test results; eye and dental records
  • Organ donor authorization

Having access to your personal health information in an emergency can be critical.   Your emergency personal health record (ePHR) can provide lifesaving information necessary for your medical treatment.