Own Your Health Information - Mature Health Center

Information you need to live a happy, worry-free retirement!

Originally published June 29, 2015, last updated July 7, 2015

Own Your Health Information

When someone mentions your health or medical record, you might wonder what that record truly entails. Maybe you picture a vast amount of information scattered among hospitals and doctors. Or maybe you think of your family practitioner who surely has a record of your medical history tucked away in his or her file room. Both could be right — any physician or medical facility you've visited will have a health record for you. But, some of these histories may be incomplete, and if you visit somewhere new because of a move or an emergency, the facility may not have any information at all.

Because information can be scattered among physicians, offices and insurance companies, it's important you take ownership of your medical past by putting together your health records at home.

When your records are organized, it will be easier to check physicians' files and correct any wrong information. It will also help you remember details such as test results and when certain medical events took place. Additionally, if you and your physician are discussing treatment options for an illness, he or she will need all of your background information to advise the best course of action.

How should you keep it?
You medical file can be as low or high-tech as you like. Some choose to gather the paperwork in one place. It could be a file folder, manila envelope or box. Another way to create your file is to scan documents and input information into a software program. If you use a program that connects to the Internet, you need to make sure that it's safe with a password and that where it's being saved is a secure environment. Look into whether the program is encrypted. If not, look for a more secure product.

What type of information should you keep?
Your home medical record should contain all of your basic information, the names and contact information of your doctors and copies of any medical test results. To break it down further, include in your file:

  • Any medical conditions you have been diagnosed with and the date of diagnosis
  • If you were diagnosed with cancer, record the type, stage, and areas of the body it affected
  • The treatment used for all medication conditions, including the start and end dates
  • The results of all treatments including side effects or negative results
  • All medications you've taken in the past and for how long
  • Medications you currently take
  • Allergies you've had in the past and are currently aware of
  • Contact information for all your current and previous doctors, including their full name, where they practice and their phone number
  • You family medical history including any major illnesses, types of cancer and allergies
  • The results of any physical exams such as heart and cancer screenings
  • Records of your immunizations

Keep important info on hand
Whether or not you complete your at-home medical file, you should know the medications you're current taking and are allergic to. Put this information in your wallet or on your phone so emergency personnel and physicians can find it in case of an emergency.

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