Personal Health Record

Last week’s news that the Department of Veterans Affairs was expanding its efforts to promote its Blue Button personal health record system prompted me to research the Blue Button program for Personal Health Records (PHR) and make them easier to use by our readers not just our Veterans.

President Obama highlighted the Blue Button Initiative, as have many others in recent weeks. The program is just one of a series of successful government challenges to promote innovation in government.

This is similar to my efforts to make Traumatic Brain Injury information more accessible and useful in another story.

An authoritative online resource: Managing Your Health Information Online explains the difference between: Electronic Health Records (EHRs) (much in the news) and Personal Health Records (PHR) as follows:

  • An Electronic Health Record is a safe and confidential record your doctor, other health care provider, medical office staff, or a hospital keeps on a computer about your health care or treatments. EHRs let your providers share up-to-date information about your conditions, treatments, tests and prescriptions. If your providers use EHRs, they can join a network to securely share your records with each other. EHRs help cut down on medical errors and can keep you from getting duplicate tests.
  • A Personal Health Record is a record with information about your health that you or someone helping you keeps for easy reference using a computer. You control the health information in your PHR and can get to it anywhere at any time with Internet access.
So two questions that one naturally asks are: Who offers PHRs? and is my health information private and secure in PHR?

The previously mentioned authoritative online resource: Managing Your Health Information Online answers:

  • PHRs are often offered by providers, health plans, and private companies. Some are free, while others charge fees.
  • Some independent companies create and maintain PHRs for you. If you give them permission, they may be able to get your health information from your doctor or health plan.
  • If your doctor or health plan doesn’t offer a PHR, check what’s available from other companies at
  • Special permissions or passwords let you choose who can access your PHR so others can get your critical information quickly. When you use a PHR, make sure it’s on a secure Web site. With a secure Web site, you usually have to create a unique user ID and password, and the information you type is encrypted (put in code) so other people can’t read it.

My comment is: why not do it yourself for free, without the Internet (especially if you are not always connected or not able to use the Internet), and in a familiar environment like a spreadsheet, notepad, or word processing document.

So I am providing the “Blue Button PHR for All Americans” as an Excel spreadsheet (XLS) and Comma Separated Value (CSV) files that can be imported into most other softwares for the convenience of our readers and their family members and friends that need them but cannot afford a commercial service or use Internet services.

On August 2, 2010, President Obama announced the Blue Button capability that allows veterans and Medicare beneficiaries to download their personal health information by a simple click of a blue button.

So now you can just download the files, read the background information and do it yourself for free and with your own security. It can be on your iPhone, iPad, and/or laptop and desktop PC or Mac. Keep reading →