This is the first of several blog posts that will speak to setting yourself up for success as you enter into unfamiliar territory.
The first and probably most important step is to create a binder. This binder will keep all your key documents/letters/reports etc that you will need all in one place... it may take a little bit of time to set-up but as time goes by, it will prove to be one of the best things you have ever done. Honestly speaking, it's really simple and inexpensive and well. We have several healthcare binders set up... and they have paid for themselves time and time again!
Having a healthcare binder allows you to:
- Have everything in one place - organization is "key"
- Information at your fingertips
- Take it Anywhere - its quite portable
- Not have to dig through stacks of papers or a box for paperwork
- Help you to be your own/or loved ones health advocate
- Personalized to best meet your/family/friends needs
So you say, "what do I need"??
- A 2-3" 3-ringed binder (ideally a view binder)
- Tabs for your binder (one's that can be moved, shifted, changed as need be)
- 3 ring plastic folders (you could start off with 4 and then add if needed)
- Pad of lined paper
If, you're contending with a medical issue, I would suggest a few tabs for your binders.
- A Personal Tab: Includes your name and contact information and those of a care-giver.
- A Physician Tab: Includes your physicians names and contact information. This will save you a lot of time looking for phone numbers and addresses.
- This can be a simple form you can create on a computer and print out or
- Obtain a 3 ringed business card holder and place in your binder.
- Allergies/Current List of Medications
- Two quick forms can be made using either Word or Excel.
- Write down all currently know allergies (medications, food and environmental) and add others if necessary, as time goes by.
- Write down all current medications, when you started taking them and why you are taking them. As you change medications, add the new ones and put stop dates on the ones you are no longer taking. This is really important information to share with all your doctors.
- Lab Reports (all types of blood work, specialty blood work and urinalysis results). Place in reverse chronological order.
- Note: You may, over time, change the way this folder is set up if you are trending your own lab reports.
- Diagnostic Reports (personally speaking - I have them each in their own unique tab)
- Other tabs as appropriate - you will figure this out over time based on your medical condition.
- Ex: Clinical trial data, journal articles, etc..
- Pad of lined paper - for writing down any/all information received at doctors visits.
The key is to ask ALL your healthcare providers for copies of ALL reports and records. I cannot stress this enough!!!
The healthcare binder should be brought with you to all healthcare visits. Whether you are seeing a new specialist, switching primary care physicians or having a procedure performed. Having your detailed medical records immediately available will help to prevent delays in your care.
This binder will also assist healthcare providers in the event you experience a medical emergency. Your friends/family members will be able to share the records with the healthcare personnel, which can be life saving!