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March 30, 2010

Traveling With Your Health Records

USB keys, flash drives, and online storage make medical records portable.

If you faint, fall, or worse while in Kathmandu, you may not be able to communicate with the doctor treating you, and it might be difficult for the medical facility to access your records. Consider creating a personal health record, or PHR. Basic information can be found on the Web site of the nonprofit American Health Information Management Association (myphr.com), which also has links to companies that allow members (for a fee, usually) to store doctor contacts, family history, medications, allergies, immunizations, even X-rays, CAT scans, or EKGs in password-protected online databases. Most of these companies will also put your information on a USB flash drive (note: many are not Mac-compatible) that can be carried with you when you travel. Features and prices of memberships vary.

ER Card Members have online and phone access to their records, which can be stored on a flash drive. Staff will remind you of doctor visits and review your medications. Membership is $8 per month; families are $6 per additional member. Flash drives are $39.95. er-card.com.

MedKey This USB device comes loaded with the company’s MedBytes EHR software (in English, Spanish, or French), and is available as a key chain or a wristband for $49.95. medkey.com.

Peoplechart This full-service company gathers and organizes all your information for you in a PHR that’s available online or by phone. Membership is $24.95 per month, $64.95 for up to four family members. peoplechart.com.

Access My Records Members have access to their records by Internet and phone and are given a medical ID card to carry. The annual fee is $30 per individual, $50 per couple. A prescription discount card is included. accessmyrecords.com.

VitalKey This company compiles your information for you and organizes it in a PHR that’s online and on a flash drive. Plans start at $8.95 per month, $19.95 for a family. vitalkey.com.

Pehr Technologies The Barlett, as this company calls its flash drive, comes loaded with PHR software for $39.95. If you open a service account ($60), staff will help with scanning and transcribing for additional fees. pehrtech.com.

MedicalSummary Users of this no-frills service get Internet access to records for an annual fee of $30, or $55 per couple. Lifetime membership is $75. medicalsummary.com.

Trip Mate This company sells travel insurance, but it offers a free service with its plans that lets you store medical information in an online PHR that can be accessed by treating physicians should you get sick or injured on your journey. tripmate.com.