Organizing Your Personal Health Records

There are several online tools to help you organize your family health history, but if you don’t take your computer around with you, it can sometimes be hard to relay the message to your doctor.  It can help to keep a combination of paper and electronic health records for yourself and if you’re a parent, each one of your kids as well.

In an article on, Pam French, mother of four, told a reporter that to keep organized, she keeps a separate binder for each of her children with tabbed dividers for “charting,” “medical records,” and “specialists.” Binders are portable, so you can bring them with you to appointments with your doctor.  Keep an updated family health history in each binder so that you have it on hand for every appointment with any family member. She suggests too that you specifically ask the doctor for printouts or paper record for your files because so many records are now kept only on the computer.  For those that she can’t print out, French also keeps full digital records for each of her kids in folders on her computer.  French says that it’s important for parents to keep organized because they are the best at seeing the whole picture.  Even the best doctors can miss things because they don’t know the full background of a patient.

Dr. William Nasuti, a family practice physician at Broad Street Family Health Center in Marysville, PA, also stressed to the same reporter how important it is for parents to stay on top of their family’s medical history.  He says that it’s especially important to keep track of all surgeries and diseases as well as immunizations. If the family moves or switches doctors for any reason, things can get lost in the shuffle.  He explains, “…some kids will only get two of their hepatitis B vaccines and they need three because they moved and the parents forgot to tell the physician right away, or girls only get one or two of the HPV vaccines and left for college and never followed up with their family doctor on their Christmas vacation to get the third vaccine.”  He also suggests that parents as well as children carry an up-to-date list of medications and allergies with them.

Organizing the information can take a little bit of time, but once you have everything together, it can make appointments with the doctor less stressful and even more effective.

For more tips on keeping track of your family’s health history and to read the full article, visit:

Be on the lookout for a Genes in Life blog post from Julie Dreese, a reporter for PennLive and the author of this featured article!