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Do You Know What’s In Your Medical Records?

Published on Apr 01, 2013

Do you know your current cholesterol levels? What about the last time you had a tetanus shot? It’s important to keep track of personal health information—including any medications you’re taking, known allergies, doctor’s appointments, your weight and body mass index, and your vaccination history—because doing so offers many benefits.

Tracking your health:

  • Allows you to share accurate and up-to-date information with all of the healthcare professionals on your healthcare team.
  • Helps you prepare for your doctors’ visits so you can make the most of each appointment.
  • And gives you a way to track your health over time as you work toward your goals.

And best of all, research has shown that when you play a more active role in your healthcare, you just might get better results. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for making decisions about your health, and making those decisions with your doctor can be easier when you have accurate and up-to-date information.

It’s also important to understand the information found in the medical records created at your doctor’s office or in a hospital. (For more information on this topic, please visit AHIMA.org. These medical records are another valuable source of personal health information. And it’s even easier to access those records when they’re stored electronically.

That’s why I’m glad more doctors are using Electronic Medical Records, or EMRs. EMRs are digital records that replace paper medical records. EMRs make it easier for you to access your personal health information and use it to make more informed healthcare decisions with your doctor. Many hospitals have started using web-based patient portals, which allow patients to view their medical records online. And some physicians who use EMRs actually share information with their patients directly from their laptop, right in the examination room.

Do your doctors use electronic medical records? Perhaps they should. Be sure to ask if they are currently using them or if they’re planning to in the near future. Your healthcare will be the better for it.

Vera Rulon, MS, RHIT, was the Director of Strategic Communications during her employment at Pfizer Inc.

[1] [2] [3]


  • 1. MedlinePlus. Personal Health Records. Accessed January 11, 2013.
  • 2. Pagliari C, Detmer D, Singleton P. Potential of electronic personal health records. BMJ. 2007;335: 330-333.
  • 3. Zeng K, Bodenreider O, Nelson S. Design and Implementation of a Personal Medication Record-MyMedicationList. AMIA 2008 Symposium Proceedings.2008: 844-848.
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