Most people do not carry medical records when they leave home. They do not realize that in an emergency, which no one can predict, these medical records can make a big difference. In fact, they could save a life. Previous medications, history of allergy to medications, and other significant medical or surgical history can help a physician to optimize treatment. The National Health Council recommends you to keep a personal health record and take it with you to your doctor. It’s one thing to document your medical information it’s another to know when and how to use it.The main components of a Good personal health record are:* Your name, birth date, blood type and emergency contact* Date of last physical* Dates and results of tests and screenings* Major illnesses and surgeries, with dates* A list of your medicines, dosages and how long you’ve taken them* Any allergies* Any chronic diseases* Any history of illnesses in your familyPersonal health records in paper based format have been used since the beginning of modern health care services. These have several disadvantages as they cannot be accessed rapidly during emergency, difficulties in sharing of these records, security and vulnerable to physical destruction as shown in recent Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans in 2005. These records are also difficult to carry around for the individual when migrating to another medical center or health care provider.Although there are different methods to record one’s personal health, Portable Digital Personal Health Record Storage medias are popular since they offer the advantage to Individuals to enable them maintain their health information at their own computer hard drive or other storage devices. Moreover, these could be made easily accessible to any health care provider by the individual who controls the data.Electronic management of personal health records were developed in the last 2 decades by several electronic health software vendors. Rapid growth in this sector was noticed during the dot-com bubble era.Today, with the growth of Web 2.0 in the internet, there is renewed interest in Personal health records in electronic format. Many still have confusion about Personal health records (PHR) and Electronic health records (EMR).PHRs are different. EMRs or electronic medical records are developed in Hospitals and medical centers, these legal health records are created and stored in health care settings and patients have no control over these records. They contain the longitudinal medical information of any patient over a period of time. A fully functioning EMR is described as one that includes a clinical data repository, controlled medical vocabulary, computerized provider order entry, clinical documentation or charting, pharmacy management, electronic medication administration record, major ancillary systems (for example, laboratory, diagnostic imaging, cardiology, and so on.) and picture archive and communication systems (PACS).However, PHRs or Personal health records are created by the individuals and patients can have full control over these records. These can contain in addition to medical illness information, health related information. The models are shrink wrapped unlike the EMRs.They could also include complete demographics of the patient along with essential health insurance details. In addition they could also include record of illness over a period of time.Personal health records have a useful role to play in health care management. Adopting technologies in health care will significantly reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of health care delivery. Over prescription of medications, duplication of tests and lack of sharing of medical information among health care service providers has resulted in increased cost of health care in the current era.Disclaimer: This article is for informational purpose only and is in no way intended to be a substitute for medical consultation with a qualified professional. The author encourages Internet users to be careful when using medical information. If you are unsure about your medical condition, consult a physician.