Yes, you fill out those medical history forms at doctor’s appointments, and the doctor should have a record of tests ordered and results. But say you go to a specialist not in the same health care system as your main provider. Or a walk-in clinic.
They probably don’t have immediate access to your records. Not to mention doctors are slammed for time. “You need to be the one with an accurate, up-to-date picture of your health,” says Lynne Thomas Gordon, CEO of the American Health Information Management Association. That means having all records in one accessible place so you can help the doctor help you at each appointment.
First, ask for copies of your health information; under the HIPAA rule, most doctors, hospitals, and labs must give you the records within 30 days. Specify that you want test results, notes from doctors’ exams, and discharge summaries. If you’re part of an online patient portal through your doctor, some of this info will be there, but may be limited. Once you have everything, read it to make sure there are no errors or surprises. Next, create a three-ring binder for every family member.
Important Medical Information to Have on Hand
It’s a no-brainer to carry your insurance card at all times, but in case of an emergency, you should have the following info typed on a card tucked into a wallet or tote, which is the first place EMTs will search: a list of allergies, medical conditions (asthma or diabetes, for example), surgeries, blood type, any medications (supplements count), and primary care doctor contact information. For children, add immunization history (including tetanus), height, and weight. Senior citizens also need to indicate how to access their most recent electrocardiogram (so doctors know baseline function).
How to Digitize Medical Records
Prefer to store your medical records on your phone, tablet, or computer? Today, many apps can effectively and easily file medical info and share it with doctors. Plus, most are free!
Maintaining current, organized health records is important for everyone in the family, especially in the event of an emergency. With these practical, expert-backed tips and apps, keeping them orderly is easier than ever.