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What should I ask for?

Find out what’s in a health records so you’ll know exactly what to ask for.

Jennifer avatar
Written by Jennifer
Updated over a week ago

Paper Records vs. Digital Records?

Paper health records can sometimes be hundreds of pages long, so knowing which part of the record you want can be important. If you’re not sure, ask at your provider’s office for help.

  • Full record: If you have a new primary care doctor or health insurance plan, you’ll want to get a copy of your full record to give to them. You may also want a copy for your own use.

  • Partial record: If you want to share specific health information with new doctors or others, you may only need a partial record. 

  • For example: Allergies, Medications, Immunization record, Clinical notes from a single visit,  or Test results 

How many copies do I need?

If your health record is not available electronically, or you or your doctor prefer a paper copy, you’ll need to determine how many copies you need.

  • Personal use: If you want a copy for your personal use, you may need only 1 copy.

  • Care providers: If you are sharing with your care team, family, or personal representative you may need a copy for each person or office.

How do I want it delivered?

Depending on the format of your health record, you have some choices about how it will be delivered to you and your care team. 

For example:

  • Secure email through your patient portal 

  • Download a personal health record app that connect to your providers

  • Directly into your electronic health record (for your provider’s use)

  • Non-secure email (your personal email)

  • CD or thumb drive

  • Fax

  • Mail (standard postal service)

What format do I need?

For yourself: 

Choose the format that works best for you. Electronic formats are the most convenient because they’re easier to update and to share. In most cases, they take up less space. But several formats are available, for example:

  • Structured data (data your computer or smart phone app can read)

  • Text file (like a Word document)

  • PDF

  • Paper

Ask your provider about formats:

Some types of data, like x-rays or MRI scans, may not be available electronically, so work with your provider to find out what formats they’re able to provide.

For your care team: 

If you’re sharing your record with a new health care provider, ask what format they need. Because of differences in record keeping, each office may require a different format.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact us via the "help button" in the bottom right hand corner of the screen or email us at


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