Delicate Info: How Can Patients Track Their Medical Records for Better Health?
By – Rachelle Wilber
Topic – Nursing Patient Education
Doctors usually have too many patients to keep a close eye on any individual’s medical records over time. Rather than relying on your doctor to track your records for better health, you can do it yourself. These four options provide you with different solutions to tracking your medical records and improving your overall health.
Personal Health Binders
Setting up your own personal health binder is a simple process and does not require the use of any technology. Choose a sturdy, three-ringed binder and label it with a title such as “health records.” You can use dividers to separate the binder’s contents into sections, such as procedures, tests and general checkups. When you visit the doctor, ask the office staff to print out your visit summaries and lab test results. Use a three-hole puncher to make holes into the left side of the printouts. Insert your printouts into the binder as desired. When you want to track your medical records, just refer to your binder. This is a helpful solution if you have different doctors that are not connected to each other through an electronic network or if you prefer to bring your medical history with you to your medical exams.
Patient Access Portals
Many medical provider networks offer electronic patient access portals. With portal access, you can log into your account and track each visit’s procedures and diagnoses. These portals also feature sections for your laboratory test results and your active prescriptions. This allows you to track you results over time and get a picture of your overall health. The portal access is encrypted to protect your confidential information. Many electronic portal services allow you to check on the date of your next appointment, send your doctor a message or request a prescription refill.
Using Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program that can be used on your home computer to track your medical records. You can use Excel to sort rows and columns, create charts and develop graphs to monitor your health situation. For example, if you are diabetic and check your A1C and daily blood sugar level results, you can monitor your test results over time. Microsoft Excel reporting tools can also be used for health record reporting. Physicians and office staff may use Excel to monitor symptoms and implement a watchful waiting or treatment program for you. Excel is also used in infectious disease reporting, such as if a patient develops a case of whooping cough, which is reportable to most local and state health departments. If you are skilled in data analysis, you can export Microsoft Excel spreadsheets in a .CSV format or a comma delimited format for in-depth analysis of your health.
Google Drive is free software that is accessible through the cloud. You can access it at any time by setting up your own Google account. It connects your email, a calendar, spreadsheets, word processing and other programs. With Google Drive, you can track your medical records by implementing your own spreadsheet. It allows you to perform basic calculations and sort by rows or columns in order to track your test results and visits. You can link the different parts of Google Drive together, such as updating your calendar with the next appointment and having it email you a reminder. There are storage limitations to Google Drive and its spreadsheet system is not as powerful as Microsoft Excel.
These four health-tracking solutions allow you to look in-depth at your health and take action for improvements. You can also use them to get an overview of your medical care. Consider using these systems to track the health of each person in your household.
Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber; https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009221637700