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Tips for keeping a personal health record
Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Laura Heuer

1. Start tracking your family's health history before there is a problem.  By keeping a running log of all health-related incidents (i.e. tetanus shots, flu shots, ear infections, prescriptions taken, etc.) for each member of the family, you'll be able to provide doctors with a complete and accurate family medical history if needed.

2. Check out the family tree.  Compile a list of diseases and medical conditions that are common among relatives in your family.  Identifying illnesses you are at a higher-risk of contracting may spur the doctor to recommend preventative treatment or tests for early detection.

3. Record symptoms and health-related activities in a calendar.  Having a timeline of symptoms can help doctors identify trends that may impact diagnosis.  For example, flu-like symptoms that occur at the same time every year may be an allergy rather than a cold.  Migraines clustered around a menstrual cycle may be related to hormonal fluctuations.  And more than four ear infections in a year could lead to more aggressive treatment than another round of antibiotics.

4. Journal symptoms as they occur.  Don't wait until the doctor's appointment to try and remember every pain or abnormal feeling you've experienced since the last visit.  Seemingly unrelated symptoms may prompt the doctor to try different tests or treatments than originally planned.  Frequent urination, for example, may indicate a bladder infection.  But excessive urination coupled with fatigue and persistent thirst, may be a sign of diabetes or another more serious condition.

5. Write questions and answers down.  Again, don't rely on memory to make the most of doctor visits.  Write questions down ahead of time and then write the doctor's response next to each question.  The personal Q&A will be a handy reference later and can assist in communicating with family members or caregivers who might have similar concerns.

6. Keep everything in one place.  Keep all health-related documents including family medical history, symptom journals, test results, immunization charts, list of prescriptions taken, insurance coverage, blood work, question/answer sheets, etc. in one organized binder.  Having the information at your fingertips can be a real timesaver and it can also help ensure everybody involved in taking care of an ailing family member has the information to do so properly.

Laura and her husband have three very active teenage boys. She has an entrepreneurial spirit that has led her to the creation of Jakoter Health Organizers. Now with a love to be on the Internet, write; fiddle with gadgets and use technology that make life easier you will find her creations on

Tags   personalhealthrecord, phr, emergency, parents

About This Blog

Parents, welcome to the PHR blog where you can connect and communicate with health information management professionals and eventually other parents about managing your child’s healthcare. Have you ever been on your way to the doctor’s office with your child and wondered about the details – diagnosis, medications prescribed, vaccinations, etc. – of your last visit?

As a parent, you have so many responsibilities that it’s difficult to recall everything from day to day let alone last year. A personal health record can help ease your mind. This blog is a social network where you can interact with experts in the field to seek advice and tips for best practices in creating and maintaining your child’s personal health record and the best ways to use that information to play a more active role in their healthcare and simplify your life.

Blog Contributors

Marsha Dolan, Valerie Watzlaf, Cindy Boester, Heidi Shaffer, Julie Wolter, Margaret Hennings, Colleen Goethals, Vera Rulon, Leah Grebner, Robert Caban, Mynilma Olivera-Vazquez, Amanda Bushey, Margie Kelly, Donna DuLong, Sarah Dietze, Valisha McFarlane, Maria Kovell, Ted Eytan, Leann Reynolds, Laura Heuer, Kristin Stewart, Derek Allen, Chris Matthies, Margo Corbett, Craig Newmark, Sarah Buelterman, Skyler Tanner, Aniruddha Malpani, Joan Malling, Marilyn McFarlane, Megan Rooney, Patrick Rhone, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Maria Bouselli, Erin Jordan


PHRs do more than manage medication. Stay up to date with information that can help you communicate with your doctor and stay out of the hospital.

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