When it comes to organizing medical information, it’s important for cancer patients to be proactive. As you explore your treatment options, having easy access to health records will help make you a stronger self-advocate. You’ll have peace of mind and be more confident knowing you have all relevant medical information at your disposal.
It can help to use a binder as a centralized system for gathering important information about your diagnosis, insurance, healthcare providers, medication, etc.
In this article, we’ll provide some tips to help you organize your medical information. We’ll take a look at the type of records you should gather, as well as a few different ways to store them all.
WHAT TO INCLUDE
If you’re diagnosed with cancer, it can be a tremendous weight off your shoulders to keep an organized file of documents and make it readily accessible. Here are a few things to include in your files.
- Doctor directory – Contact information for any provider involved in your cancer care. Many people simply keep their business cards handy since they already have phone numbers, addresses, emails and other relevant info listed.
- Test results – Diagnostic test results and lab reports.
- Diagnosis details – Details about your specific cancer diagnosis (type, stage, etc.).
- Medications and treatments – List of medications and treatments including names, doses, dates taken or received, and any side effects you experienced.
- Medical history – Including chronic conditions, other illnesses, or hospital stays.
- Family history – Any history of cancers in your family.
- Receipts/Claims – Copies of medical bills, insurance claims, receipts for treatment-related expenses like gas, parking, lodging, meals, etc.
- Phone conversations – Notes from phone conversations with healthcare providers and insurance company.
- Legal documents – Including medical directives, will, durable power of attorney, advanced guardianship, and financial directives.
- List of instructions for carrying out your wishes
- Give to a trusted person responsible for carrying out your wishes in case of emergency.
- Guide to home, health, family, legal, and financial matters.
- Explanation of your filing system.
- Banking/credit card info, usernames & passwords, etc.
- Be sure to keep these in a safe place that only you and your trusted person can access.
METHODS FOR ORGANIZING MEDICAL INFORMATION
Depending on your preference and the extent of your technological savvy, there are a number of different methods for organizing medical information.
The tried-and-true system is good old-fashioned paper. You can make paper copies of all your records and store them in a filing cabinet, 3-ring binder, folder, or just a box. The benefits of a filing system on paper include always knowing where your records are, as well as having quick access to them at your home.
In this digital age, more people are turning to technology to help organize and store their medical information. You can use a scanner to create digital copies of your records and store them on CDs or portable hard drives. In fact, many healthcare providers can send you electronic health records so there’s no need to scan paper copies.
You can also use online cloud services to store digital records. Many companies provide encrypted, HIPAA compliant storage solutions, and some even offer assistance to make sure you have everything you need. By storing your medical information on the cloud, you’ll have access to your records anytime and anywhere.
No matter which method you choose, it’s important to keep your information secure. Consider opening a safe deposit box at your bank or invest in a fireproof safe for your home. It’s a best practice to keep your legal documents (will, durable power of attorney, etc.) at home (or in a secure online location) and not in a safe deposit box, because you’ll need to be able to access them quickly in case of emergency.
When storing your medical information digitally, make sure you protect your files with strong passwords that only you and your trusted person know. If using CDs or a portable hard drive, you can also keep those in a safe deposit box or fireproof safe.