Electronic patient-held record devices enable people to carry around information about their health. They need to be easily accessed in emergency situations and should provide enough information to enable front line staff to deliver effective care. Although it has been suggested that patients taking responsibility for their records could improve patient safety, little is known about attitudes towards this. In taking a user centred approach to the development of such a system, surveys were conducted with the public and health professionals. The survey of 258 members of the public showed that 85% thought patient-held records would be useful. The types of information that most people wanted to carry were name, allergies, long term conditions, current medication and blood group. A smart card design was preferred by 62% of the participants and 68% thought it should be provided free of charge.