Because of a technical glitch, the blog post I scheduled for today actually posted on Aug 11, so here’s a short piece on how to make it easier to share information with health care professionals.
Create a binder, or folder to organize your health information. Bernie Ryan is an amazing caregiver who showed me an effective way to organize. You can download instructions for making Bernie’s binder at www.drcherylwoodson.com under the “For Caregivers” tab. When you organize, you can just present a copy of the information to each new doctor, emergency room, hospital, nursing, or rehabilitation service. You’ll never forget anything important, or feel frustrated about having to provide the same information over and over. Update the material whenever you see a new provider, enter a new care location, develop a new condition, or have a change in instructions for your medicines. Include the names and contact information for all of your doctors, along with their organ system specialties: cardiologists, or “(heart doctors,) nephrologists (kidney doctors,) etc. A section should also document your medical history: active conditions, illnesses from which you’ve recovered, past hospitalizations, pregnancies, injuries, surgeries, allergies, and medicines. In another section, collect the most recent results of blood tests and x-rays. Keep your insurance cards, referral forms, and papers that allow doctors to speak with family members of your choice, and others authorize someone to make decisions for you when you cannot (we’ll talk about advance directives next week.) Add blank paper for writing down your questions before the visit (so you won’t forget anything) and recording your doctor’s answers. Also keep an appointment calendar, so you won’t miss scheduled tests, or doctor visits. To avoid scheduling conflicts, the calendar should also list appointments for anyone who provides transportation, child care, eldercare, or any other service that helps you get to the doctor.
Next Thursday: Staying in Control of your Health Information and Health Plan