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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

February is National Wise Health Consumer Month. Are you a wise consumer of health care?

This certainly may be a good time to consider the importance of being an informed, and involved, health care consumer by learning more about a personal health record. The myPHR® website (http://www.myphr.com) brought to you by the American Health Information Management Association has lots of helpful information.

A personal health record, or PHR, is a tool that you personally use to document and maintain information about your own health care. It is different from a medical record that is created and maintained by health care providers. For a PHR, you chose what information you want to keep track of and have accessible to you at any time you need it. It might be as basic as a problem list of your current diagnoses and past surgeries or pertinent conditions, an allergy list, and medication list. It could include contact information for your medical providers and insurance information.

Personal health records can be kept on paper or electronically. Electronic records can be kept via a software application on a personal computer or through an Internet based service.

According to information found at the myPHR® website, some PHR tools are free, and for others you may have to pay a fee or subscription. You can create your own PHR by simply putting information in a file folder or notebook you maintain yourself. If you use an online service for keeping your PHR, each supplier has specific policies and practices for storing and accessing your data.

You could also share what you learn about PHRs with others to help them be wise consumers of health care too.

Dorine Bennett

Dakota State University

Madison, SD