Tracking Your Healthcare Information
by Deresa Claybrook, MS, RHIT
After a cancer diagnosis, it can be incredibly helpful to have an easy-to-use method to track your healthcare information. This is especially true if you are seeing multiple physicians. Your healthcare information is often scattered, and there is no real linkage with your healthcare information behind the scenes. Physicians do not routinely forward everything over to the next physicians even though they each keep a separate record on you. Here are six simple steps that can help you track your healthcare information or that of your loved one.
Pull your information out of the shoeboxes and file cabinets and organize it.
1 Complete your healthcare
You are the one who supplies your physicians with information, so this information needs to be accurate. You sit in the lobby and fill out the forms for the doctors, but you really need to be doing this for yourself as well. You should do this at home so that you can accurately gather information to make sure the forms are as accurate as they can be. Ask for a copy of the healthcare forms from your provider after you have completed them. This can save time in the end.
2 Collect your healthcare
We all need to be collecting our healthcare information from every hospital and physician that we have visited. You should do this for the last three visits to get a good start.
3 Organize your healthcare
Pull your information out of the shoeboxes and file cabinets and organize it. You may find it most beneficial to put things in chronological order. Place a separate divider in a three-ring binder for each family member to separate the information. Knowing what is in your record can possibly save you from having duplicate or unnecessary tests, thereby saving you time and money.
4 Protect your healthcare
Make sure that your information is not lying around so that it can be seen. Keeping it in a safe deposit box, or a fireproof box in your home, is a good idea. If you already save your healthcare information to a computer, make sure it is secure with a password and virus protection. Back up your information to another location as well.
5 Retrieve your healthcare
The one thing about healthcare information is that you need access to it when you are going to see your physician, sending the kids to camp, while traveling, or even in the event of emergency. You need to be thinking about how you can retrieve it when you need it. The only way to do this is to have access to your healthcare information at all times. That is why I recommend that you store your healthcare information on a USB drive or flash drive so that you can have access to it, and give access to it, when you need to. Being able to retrieve your healthcare information in an emergency can possibly save your life.
6 Update your healthcare
Your healthcare information has to be updated. When you are given new medicines, you need to add them to your list or your form. If you have a drug that you have become sensitive to even though you have never had any problems with it before, you need to let your doctors know. It really is up to you to keep track of and update your healthcare information. Tracking your healthcare information should be viewed as a process, not just a onetime activity.
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Deresa Claybrook is the president of Positive Resource Health Care Industry Consultants. For more information or to contact her, visit www.healthcaretracker.org.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, July/August 2008.