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Health Records: New Tool to Gather & Store On-Line

June 15, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia hospitals and doctors increasingly are switching to electronic medical records - and now, their patients age 50 and older can use them, too.

This month, AARP has launched an online tool to allow its members to organize health and medical information in a single location. On "AARP Health Record," people can list their doctors and emergency contacts, medications, allergies, insurance policy numbers and more - in English or Spanish.

Nicole Duritz, AARP vice president for health and family, says being able to access these details online could come in handy when traveling - and also for family members.

"My mother and father-in-law are in Minnesota and my parents are in California. They can set up their own health records, and they can decide what they want to allow me to have access to - so if there was a medical emergency, and I had been given permission in advance, then I would be able to say, 'I know all the medications my parents are on.' "

Duritz says it could also be helpful when communicating with health-care providers who increasingly keep records online.

For this project, Duritz says, AARP partnered with Microsoft Health Vault, an online platform used since 2007 by doctors, pharmacies and some fitness organizations. It has compatible applications to track many different facets of a person's health.

"Some folks have web-enabled blood pressure monitors, or glucose monitors that they use for diabetes. Some scales, some pedometers can link in. So again, you can be putting lots of stuff - it's not just your pure medical information, but it can also be your health and fitness."

The chief concerns of AARP members have been privacy and security, she says, adding that AARP cannot access, sell or use the information in any individual health record.

AARP Health Record is online at aarp.org/HealthRecord.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA