As a reminder of how things used to be, I am uploading the following image.
I saw the same family doctor from birth through the age of 20, when I moved from New York to Florida. He passed away several years later and his nurse/assistant was kind enough to mail his medical records to anyone for whom she was able to locate a current address.
Dr. Markell kept his records on 3" x 5" index cards; I can clearly recall the small four-drawer cabinet which sat on the corner of his desk. I have five of these cards which span the entire first 20 years of my life; four of them are written on both sides, the fifth has only a few entries on the front.
The card above reminds me of the time I accidentally cut my right forearm long and deep; surely 3" by 1/4" deep. My father didn't think it was worth worrying about, so we put some bandaids crosswise to hold it closed and seemed to be doing okay. The next morning, October 4, 1961, my mother saw it and had a fit. She and sent me to Dr. Markell, who said it was already holding closed quite well but he put four sutures in just in case and that was that. I still have the scar to prove it.
On November 5, 1962, I was diagnosed with viral pneumonia and - woohoo! - I got to stay out of school for a few weeks. Unfortunately, I had to return to school on November 20th.
On July 8, 1963, I was coming around a corner on my bicycle and rode headfirst into the front end of Mrs. Murray's car. Yikes! As luck would have it, Dr. Markell's office was just a couple of hundred feet down the road, so she brought me over to make certain that I was okay (I was).
On August 7 of that year, while getting my latest polio and flu shots, Dr. Markell noted that I had a (inguinal) hernia on the right side. On the back side of this card, there is a note that Dr. Burnett fixed my hernia on March 16, 1964.
Gosh, that was a cool trip down memory lane.
But, let me reiterate the point: these are 20 years of medical records written on just five 3" x 5" index cards. A single visit to the doctor's office today generates more data than is on these 5 cards.