Organize Your Medical Information

You get a bad infection and the doctor wants to know if you are allergic to any types of medicines. You cut your skin with a sharp instrument and the nurse wants to know your blood type. You keep switching doctors due to changes in your health insurance plan.

Having organized, easily accessible medical records can be the difference between life and death. Sounds dramatic, but it can be true. So let’s look at some of the ways you can organize your medical data.

Idea #1 Expanding Folders with a Flap: One expanding folder per family member. This folder comes with dividers that you can label by doctor name, medical specialty, system within the body (circulatory, etc.) or some other way that works for you. You may want to have a piece of paper at the front of each section for basic information. If you have any test results or notes from an appointment they can be put behind the appropriate divider. By having records in an expandable folder, you can easily take the entire folder to an appointment and have all pertinent information with you.

Idea #2 Binders: One binder per family member with subject dividers. Similar to the expandable folders, these dividers can be named by doctor name, medical specialty, system within the body or some other way that works for you. You may want to have a piece of paper at the front of each section for basic information. If you have any test results or notes from an appointment they can be put behind the appropriate divider. If you have extensive medical history, it may either take a big binder or multiple binders. If more than one binder is necessary, then you have to make a decision about which information goes into each binder.

Idea #3 Electronic: Electronic refers to two different concepts:

• Electronic copies of information you also have in hard copy. The best way to organize these is to set up files within your computer that are parallel to the structure of your paper files. This is a whole article unto itself, so I won’t give additional information on this at this time.

• Websites or software that allows you to manage your medical records online or on your computer.

Products for purchase: As you can imagine, there are some products on the market that can help you organize your medical records. Some of them are listed below. These resources are for reference purpose only and not intended to be an endorsement for any specific product.

• Jakoter Health Organizers has several different products available including a pre-made binder to sort and organize your medical records and “health tag” to house your records on a special flash drive. They have additional resources including free downloadable forms and links to related websites.

• MedicTag is a USB medic alert tag designed for emergency medical information and alerts. It is an easy way to have access to all of your health records. It is especially useful in unexpected medical situations.

• My Pro Medical Health Records Organizer is a combination electronic and hard copy way to save your medical information. Detailed binder includes places to organize your medical records, an instruction guide, tracking forms, and method for organizing contact information for medical professionals. CD with forms allows you to save medical information electronically or print out forms you have filled in.

• Quicken Medical Expense Manager helps you make sense of your medical bills and expenses by organizing your medical history and expenses on your computer. This program keeps your medical information in one easy-to-access place and works on many health plans.

Cheat sheet: If you want to have a document that is easily carried with you at all times, I have found one that I like. It is called Pocket.doc. It is the size of a credit card which then unfolds into a series of forms for specific information. In one small “package,” you can keep local and out-of-state contacts, blood type, primary physician, insurance, current medications, immunization and allergies.

Your well-being is everything. Don’t jeopardize your health because you can’t locate vital information.