How do you store and quickly access your and your family’s personal health records? Since having a child, I realized how important it is to keep track of his routine and not-so-routine medical visits, developmental milestones, vaccines, prescriptions, OTC medicines, weight and height, and on and on… Not only is this information important to keep, it’s even more important to be able to access it quickly, and be able to maintain it easily and efficiently.
I found a great website, from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), that includes a free, downloadable “personal health record” in pdf or Word format. (It is not called a “medical record” or "medical chart", since it is not in a medical facility, but is the same concept).
The idea came to me, during my work in a health clinic; all of the hundreds of medical records were stored neatly and easily accessible; everything about the person’s health history, presenting concerns and symptoms, their weight (which is important to know, when administering medicine to an infant!), vaccines, current and previous medications, were in one logical location, with potentially complex information easily accessible.
Plus, the only thing is these medical charts were related to the person’s health; there were no medical receipts or bills or insurance claims, as was the case with my own personal "filing system" at home.
So, off I went to an office supply store, and bought a few “medical chart” manila folders (you know, the kind with the metal binding clasp at the top, with only two holes). Each family member received their own folder labeled, "[name] Health Record". You can have as many folders per person as needed; I found having one "general" folder is best, with more complicated conditions each receiving their own folder (for instance, when I was pregnant, I created a separate manila folder for "Alison OB/GYN", which filled up quickly on its own!).
Then, I printed out the free “personal health record” form (http://www.myphr.com/your_record/free_forms.asp) and completed it with each family member’s information, including everything from insurance numbers, doctor names and numbers, previous illnesses and surgeries, family health histories, drug and environmental allergies, etc. The forms are easy to complete and walk you through what information you need. If it is not relevant...skip it!
Keeping your own personal health record not only helps you find important information when you need it, but helps you be a more educated and prepared patient in the partnership with your health care providers.
Now that I have all of my health information in one location, it is easily accessible and physically bound to the folder (so papers are organized and do not fall out or become lost). You can fill out as much (or as little) of the form as you choose; I only completed 5 pages and feel like it is complete.
oh! And what to do with those extra prescription labels or "duplicate receipts" that come from the pharmacy? Don't throw them out! The left side of the manila folder “personal health record” does not contain a clip, so it is a blank slate...and can house these labels. I just tape them (some are already sticky labels) in chronological order down the inside of the folder. These labels are great: they include the prescription number, drug name, dosage, expiration date, refill amount, prescribing doctor’s information and pharmacy contact info. I now have a running “log” of prescriptions for each member of my family, and when the prescription is no longer being used, I mark an “X” through it with a highlighter. Plus, I can make any notes next to the label if any side effects or allergies to a particular drug appear.
I would love to hear how you keep track of your personal health records, and if you decide to try the above method…let me know what you think! It is quick, easy and gives you “peace of mind”!
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