Managing Your Personal Health Records for Effective Coordinated Care

A diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness brings with it a host of health-care appointments involving multiple specialists along with plenty of diagnostic tests, medications, surgical procedures, hospitalizations, and more. All of these complexities add up to an immense amount of data that can be important information for every health-care provider you consult throughout your health journey.

The sharing of information among providers typically becomes the responsibility of the patient or caregivers and can be challenging to manage. We’ve gleaned some recommendations from experts in the field for taking control of your own health data and ensuring that it is available to all of your health-care providers, resulting in better health outcomes for you.

Since most patients see providers at various independent facilities, it is usually not possible for patient records to be shared electronically. You’ll need to develop strategies to collect and record this information in order to be able to easily share with each specialist that you consult. One way to do this is to create a personal health record. You can choose to collect data with hard copies and handwritten documents, or electronically. Some examples of pertinent information to keep in your record include:

  • Contact details for all providers
  • Health insurance information
  • Emergency instructions and contacts
  • List of all medications and any drug allergies
  • Dates and details of surgical procedures and hospitalizations

Documenting and gathering all of the pieces in a single organized record will make the information easily accessible to you in order to prepare for each health-care visit. You’ll need to select a method that is easy for you to maintain, update, and access. For instance, some people may find that creating a health journal to bring to every appointment works best for them. You can enlist the help of your providers by asking for visit summaries, copies of lab results, and lists of prescribed medications that you can keep with your written journal.

If you prefer to create an electronic personal health record, there are a number of existing programs available for use. These are offered through health-care organizations, providers, or private companies. Some may be available for free or minimal cost. Your information is kept private through the use of login IDs and passwords needed to access these records. If you want to create an electronic record and don’t know where to start, first consult your primary care physician’s office or health insurance organization for suggestions and assistance. Another great source for information is myPHR. This website run by The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the effective management of personal health information, provides detailed information on how and why to create a personal health record as well as a database of tools available for doing so.

For our patients at BFS, we have staff dedicated to help you prepare in advance for your BostonSight® PROSE consultation and to support you every step of the way. We offer assistance with the referral process and identifying the pertinent medical record information we need from your health-care providers for a successful consultation. Our treatment team ensures that you and your primary eye doctor will have all of the necessary medical record information for successful follow-up care and we are always available to respond to questions and concerns.

How do you organize and maintain your personal health record? Do you have any tips for sharing your health information among multiple providers? Please offer your suggestions here.