When I was growing up, my medical data traveled all over the world in a paper folder, courtesy of the U.S. Army. Even today, I can read the notes from my birth until the year I graduated college — the same year I lost my mother to aggressive metastatic breast cancer and learned to ask hard questions about health care. I’ve combed that file many times looking for information that might have been shared as part of a medical history. It’s the only trail I can follow. At the same time, I contribute information about me to a national longitudinal study on breast cancer, in hopes that information about my habits, health status and (periodically) blood tests can give insight into better prevention and treatment for anyone who might confront this disease. Today, I watch my children growing up and every bit of our health data is locked in an electronic record. Sure, I may have portal access, but the data is spread over multiple systems; I can’t get to it easily; it’s not tangible and I can’t see it all in one place to read it in context. I grow frustrated reading all the exciting, innovation-focused news that swoons over the promise of AI and big data to solve some of our challenging conundrums in healthcare. I know there is merit in the notion that technology and fancy systems can help us see signals, create more consistency in care and improve outcomes. At the same time, I wish for a simpler reality, where I have control and full access to all my medical information in real-time, that I can use to help me live my healthiest life and that I can choose to share to common use (i.e. research). While there’s a horse race for dominance in data access, ownership, interoperability and analytics, we need to remember who it’s for.