How Organized Are Your Health Records?

 

Hurricane Irma was a reminder that it’s important to have “important documents” both safe and handy. But actually, this is really important all the time.

Recently I had my legal end-of-life documents rewritten, and my attorney gave me a binder to organize copies of every legal, financial and logistical thing that my designates would have to deal with if I became incapacitated.

We all hope this won’t ever happen. But then when natural disaster, accident or serious illness strikes, it can be sudden and unexpected! And the best thing we can do is be prepared by getting our stuff as organized as we can when life is calm.

When it comes to medical information, we need to be our own expert organized self-advocate. No one is more vested in keeping an accurate, up-to-date record of your health than you! Especially in today’s climate of specialists, no one doctor may have your complete picture.

Under the HIPAA law, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and laboratories are required to provide you with copies of your records within 30 days of you requesting them. You have to specify that you want everything: doctor exam notes, test results, discharge summaries if you’ve been hospitalized. Read everything and make sure it’s thorough and accurate.

Then create some kind of binder or organizer for your records. Make copies for anyone you designate to be your surrogate or at least make sure everyone knows how to access the information you compile. And consider creating some kind of abbreviated version of these records that you can give to any new health care provider you need to work with.

Consider having these records in virtual storage as well. There are many programs and apps that facilitate organization and allow controlled access to your medical files. A general program like Evernote allows you to scan documents and store them in a virtual “notebook” (evernote.com). Other apps that are medical record specific include healthspek.com, healthvault.com, freehealthtrack.com, mymedicalapp.com.

It’s also a good idea to carry some information with you at all times. You probably carry your insurance cards in your wallet. You can add another small card with important information for emergency personnel such as medications you take, allergies you have, medical conditions they need to be aware of, past surgeries, your blood type, your primary care physician’s contact information.

Most smart phones have emergency keys on them that allow you to store this information and permit emergency personnel to access that information even if your phone is locked. Here’s a link to how to set it up on an iPhone: http://appleinsider.com/articles/14/09/24/how-to-set-up-your-emergency-medical-id-with-ios-8s-new-health-app

We never know what life will throw at us. I hope you never need to have this information because you can’t speak for yourself. But it gives tremendous peace of mind to have records organized and available. And if anyone ever does need it, believe me, they will thank you for your foresight!

Source: “Organize Your Health Records,” Better Homes and Gardens, August 2017

Category : Blog &Health Posted on September 27, 2017

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