October is Organize Your Medical Information Month. At this spooky time of year, don’t let a medical scare or legal action haunt you. Make it a priority to organize your medical information with these four suggestions.
The Importance of Organizing Your Medical Information
There are many reasons you may need to have ready access to your medical information. Your medical provider may require them for verification; if any legal dispute regarding your medical history or care arises, your records may be needed in evidence; and your own perusal may be called for if you make changes to your care regimen. For example, Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) runs from October 15th through December 7th, so if you organize your medical information now, you will have all the information necessary to enter the program as needed.
Ensuring that you organize your medical information is beneficial in a very general sense as well. Those who do generally enjoy better health. This is likely linked to being more cognizant and aware of one’s health, though it also means that medical providers have the information they need to administer the most advantageous care. In an emergency, it is critical to have such information at the ready. In your efforts to organize your medical information, we recommend the following steps:
Keep All Medical Records in One Secured Place
The first step when you organize your medical information is to gather all of it in one place. Though this may initially take quite a bit of effort, the time saved in an emergency situation or when the need arises is critical. Because every piece of your medical history in forming a complete picture, more is more: store everything, no matter how significant it may feel.
When gathering your medical information, ask your physician for help. Your doctor’s office is a good source for all the relevant records in one place. The staff may also be able to retrieve records from other medical facilities. These are the kind of things to include in your records:
- Basic personal information including blood type
- A list of allergies, including allergies to pharmaceutical drugs or food
- A list of current and past medications (including any side effects)
- A list of chronic health problems, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, or high blood pressure
- A basic medical family history especially including known hereditary diseases
- Other information that is vital in case of an emergency (including pacemakers, stents, or hearing and vision problems)
- Information from all visits to a doctor’s office (including date, physician’s name, and notes)
- Dates and results of procedures, tests, or health screenings
- All information about any major illnesses, surgeries, or hospital visits
- Major tests and screenings, especially for cancer, including colonoscopies, Pap tests, mammograms, and PSA (prostate-specific antigen) tests
- Hearing, vision, and dental records
- Immunizations records
- History of childbirth
- A history of any counseling received
- A list of current and past healthcare providers’ and pharmacists’ contact information
It isn’t enough to have all your medical information in one place, not if pinpointing what you are looking for is not intuitive. Gathering and cataloging all of your medical documents will guarantee that any information you may need is in one easily navigable place. The system will be unique to the individual, but we recommend having a cover page that includes your name, your date of birth, and your blood type followed by a table of contents. You may choose to sort things chronologically or topically, grouping by medical condition or by kind of document (i.e. prescription or insurance records).
Include All Billing and Insurance Documents
Not all of your medical information will come from the clinic. It is important to keep insurance and relevant billing records with your other medical information as the financial side of healthcare is often where questions or disagreements arise. It’s recommended that you keep insurance statements and bills for at least three years. Insurance disputes can take a while—sometimes years—to get off the ground and to be settled. Keep your statements so there is clarity in case of any dispute.
Keep Electronic and Paper Copies
In this uncertain world, it is important not to keep all your medical information eggs in one basket. As you organize your medical information, keep electronic copies in addition to the physical documents you receive.
Organizing Your Medical Information with Aspen Ridge Medical
Individuals are responsible for organizing their own personal medical records. For hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities, it is critical to manage copious amounts of medical information for copious amounts of patients. The challenge increases exponentially. Fortunately, there are strategies and services that make a very daunting process manageable. If you are a medical provider and need better systems to organize your medical information, Aspen Ridge Medical can help.