The NLM Personal Health Record (PHR)

The NLM Personal Health Record is a web-based tool designed to allow consumers to keep track of their own health information as well as that of their children and elderly or other dependents. It takes advantage of national coding and terminology standards available from the NLM.

The NLM PHR has been retired but you may still download it and set it up in your local environment. See the Download the PHR System section below.

This application was developed by staff in the Computer Science Branch at the U.S. National Library of Medicine under the direction of Clement J. McDonald, MD, Director, Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications. Federal research staff includes Paul Lynch, Project Manager, and Ye Wang, Senior Systems Developer at the National Library of Medicine.

The PHR is a web-based system. The server code is written primarily in Ruby on Rails, and the client side code is written in Javascript. A MySQL database contains both user and program data.

Key Features

Single Account for All Family Members

An entire family's health information is managed within one account by creating individual health records for each family member.

Customized Health Reminders

The PHR creates customized health reminders for each user based on national health guidelines by analyzing all of the demographic and clinical data entered for each individual. Reminders are based on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines but can be customized to use any sources. The reminders include brief informative text as well as links to the appropriate USPSTF or CDC recommendation.

Date Reminders

The PHR creates date-based reminders for each user based information entered for things like medication refill due dates, next appointment dates, next vaccination dates, etc.

Links to Trusted Health Information

The PHR provides one-click access to trusted consumer health oriented resources both inside and outside the US National Library of Medicine through the use of information buttons that are created at the time of data entry.

Comprehensive Test Panel and Health Tracker Entry

The PHR includes an "Add Tests & Measures" section where individuals can enter laboratory, radiology, and diagnostic test results. They can also keep track of disease and symptoms such as diabetes and wheezing associated with asthma, as well as lifestyle measures such as sleep, mood, nutrition, and exercise. These panels are easy to customize for a particular group or institution's needs.

Test Panel Flowsheet

The PHR results timeline flowsheet allows the user to see test results and health trackers over time. The graphing feature makes it easy to view test results and health trends as well as get detailed information about specific data points.

Data Sharing

The data for an individual may be shared with others. This feature is enabled only on the request of the person who created the health record, by explicitly granting read-only access to someone they specify.

See the PHR System

The NLM PHR demonstration system has been retired as of September 27, 2018. As with the demonstration system, sample accounts are included in the version available as a virtual machine (see #2 below), although they are not the same accounts.

Download the PHR System

The code for the system remains available in two forms:

  1. as downloadable source code from GitHub, which requires separate installation of supporting third-party packages and building the code as described on the Github site. Installation instructions are provided as part of the technical documentation.
  2. as a virtual machine (VM), which can be imported into a third-party virtual machine package, e.g., Oracle's Virtual Box VM Manager, then tailored for your organization's name, etc., and run as is. Note that if you want to use it for something real, you will want to update the VM's operating system, ruby, and other third-party packages so it is secure, because we have stopped updating the VM.

Review the Details

Both technical documentation and a user's guide are available. The PHR User's Guide provides detailed descriptions of the functions and usage of the NLM PHR system.