Easy access to your personal health information is critical to ensure that you receive timely, safe, and effective treatment and care. With the increased implementation of electronic medical records in the healthcare community, many patients, caregivers, and healthcare workers have ready access to a wealth of personal health data. A patient should carefully consider how exhaustive such information is and how easy it is to obtain and review. If the electronic medical records kept by your healthcare provider do not include all of the following, consider keeping such records yourself:
- Keep a medical card in your purse or wallet with a list of all current medications and dosages, chronic illness conditions, and the name and phone number of your pharmacy, along with a list of physicians with their phone numbers.
- Past medications: list the medication, dosage, and start and stop dates.
- Immunizations: dates of all immunizations you’ve received.
- Allergies: include information on all drug, food, latex, and/or seasonal allergies.
- Health history: include information on past procedures/surgeries, illnesses, injuries, or family history of cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
- Test/lab results:
- Chart your blood test results (CMP, CBC, Immunoglobulins, Serum Viscosity).
- Use a spreadsheet to help graph the trends in key test result values over time - this helps your healthcare team visualize your progress.
- Keep records of the results of scans and radiographic tests (MRI, CT, X-Ray, etc.).
- Treatments: include the type of treatment, drugs/procedures administered, dosage, frequency, duration, and start and stop dates. Consider also noting any signs and symptoms you experienced, along with any side effects.
It’s also a good idea to keep records of the costs and expense coverage you’re incurring. Consider maintaining a file for each of the following:
- Medical bills you receive from healthcare providers, labs, and hospitals.
- Insurance claims you file with the insurance company.
- Medical bills you have paid.
- Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses (parking fees, meals, travel and lodging, etc.).
- Hospital discharge orders/documents.
Finally, fill out important forms for possible crisis times, such as a Living Will, Medical Power of Attorney, and Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order. Five Wishes is a booklet and online resource you can use to let your family and doctors know who you want to make healthcare decisions if you are unable to; the kind of medical treatment you want or don't want; how comfortable you want to be; how you want people to treat you; and what you want your loved ones to know. To complete your personalized Five Wishes online and print it, go to the Five Wishes website.