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Sending my son to college...with a personal health record
Wednesday, July 01, 2009 | Colleen Goethals

Last summer was my first experience with sending a child off to college.  As I sat through the college parent orientation, I noticed that not much was mentioned about health care.  My son’s college is a small college and does not have a student health service department.  My anxiety started to grow as I began to think about what will happen if he has to go to the doctor or hospital.  Will he have the necessary information about his health history for the physician to appropriately treat him?  I sent the required immunization records to the college, but there is more health information that I’m not sure a boy of 18 years old would know about, or remember, or know that it’s important to share with a health care provider.  My fears were soon allayed because I remembered that he has a personal health record that I’ll send with him for just these kinds of emergencies. 

Actually, I started his personal health record when he was just an infant documenting his immunizations and illnesses in his baby book.  I didn’t realize that this would be the starting point for pulling his health information together into a formal personal health record that he can take with him not just to college but throughout his life. 

As I looked around the auditorium, I wondered if others would send a personal health record with their son or daughter.  The personal health record is a fairly new concept to many and one would most likely not think there would be a need to send their healthy child off the college with their medical history.  I knew that I needed to share this idea with other parents.  Whether your child is healthy or has a chronic illness, they need to be aware of past health issues.  And what about family history?  Have I shared the important medical histories of his relatives with him?  This is the time to share this very important information with your child.

One thing I struggle with is the format will be most advantageous to him:  I originally created it on paper and sent to him in a word document.  Since I have my PHR in paper and take it with me, I thought this would be an acceptable medium.  But then I remembered he’s in the technology generation and rarely prints anything to paper.  After some research and discussions with colleagues, I found an online tool that I created for him.  There are many great tools out there and I suggest you find one that works best for you.

There is a movement of foot for universities nationwide to provide an electronic personal health record via their health services but in the meantime, consider putting a together a PHR with your son or daughter as they go off to college.  And while you’re at it, create one for yourself.  For helpful documents, go to

Tags   personalhealthrecord, phr, parents, college, healthcare

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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