ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -

Hospitals and clinics are replacing paper files with sophisticated electronic health records. And although some systems can't share information with each other, which could be a serious problem in an emergency, smartphones are starting to bridge that electronic gap.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that capability is already available to Medicare patients and veterans. The Medicare Blue Button and a similar Veterans Affairs program allow patients to download three years of their medical history into a simple text file on their smartphones or personal computers. Apps are available that make it easy. Sharing that data with a health care provider can then be as simple as handing over your smartphone.

About half of Minnesota's primary care clinics also let their patients access their records online, and that number is growing rapidly.