So now you have your own copy of your medical record (or you’ve made arrangements to get it). You’ve already taken a very important step that most Canadians still have not with respect to safeguarding their health care treatment. 

With your record, you have the ability to be infinitely more engaged in the details and progress of your health and the care that you receive. 

But your job is not done.  Like most things in life you want to keep under control, your health record, like your health, is always going to be a work in progress. If you let it go, you’ll need to catch up one day, and it could happen at a time when you don’t have the time to catch up.

Think about a sudden trip to the E.R.; a second opinion about a diagnosis you just received; an unplanned trip out of the country; a sudden loss of data at your doctor’s office due to a data breach or natural disaster.  You never think about these things until you’re forced to one day.  And it always comes without warning. 

Whether you keep your record on a cloud-based, password protected file system (Dropbox, Box, Google Docs etc.) or on an encrypted USB drive attached to your keychain , here’s what you must do to keep your records updated: 

  1. Regularly Update Your Personal Information – Address, phone number, emergency contact information should all be checked regularly to ensure that the latest information is there. It’s crucial for appointment confirmation, receiving test results and in the event of an emergency. 
  1. Record ALL Medical Visits and Treatments – I recommend that you keep a log in the front of your record, and with each appointment, you record the date, the doctor or clinic visited, the reason, the diagnosis, the treatment, and any medications prescribed. 
  1. Keep an Updated Medication List – Not only should you keep your prescription medications updated at all times, you must also include over-the-counter drugs, supplements, vitamins and herbal remedies. Name, dosage, frequency and prescribing doctor should also be noted. Did you know that there are supplements and herbal remedies that contraindicate with prescription medications? Only recently have doctors begun to ask more about the supplements that their patients take. 
  1. Vaccinations and Immunizations – Never have these words meant so much to the world as when Covid hit.  But let’s not forget that there are vital immunizations that are recorded about us and must be substantiated at times:  Tetanus, measles, polio, chicken pox, hepatitis A & B, HPV, RSV and of course, Covid.  Ensure you know if and when you’ve been vaccinated for any of these or other diseases. 
  1. Allergies – If you have any allergies or sensitivities to medications, foods, pets or other environmental factors, these should be recorded in order to avoid future complications. 
  1. Test and Diagnostic Results – Most labs that do blood testing now make the results available to patients. But the results collecting should not stop there.  Make sure you ask for and obtain imaging studies (x-ray, CT Scan, MRI, etc.). If you don’t understand the results, ask your doctor to review them with you and watch for changes in subsequent testing over time. 
  1. Your Own Test Results – Personal home monitoring of things like blood pressure, blood oxygen, glucose,  activity and more is now more commonplace than ever. The devices offer comprehensive longitudinal tracking which can be copied and placed into your health record as well. 

Patients that keep their records updated and stay engaged have overall better health outcomes.  They tend to also be the conduit that connects their various health care providers and ensures that each one is updated with the latest information. 

At the same time, they are also tapping into each one of their provider’s records about them to ensure that they haven’t missed anything new and that any errors are caught immediately – something that otherwise can have potentially devastating results. 

Maintaining an updated record means collaborating with your various health care providers. In so doing, you will ensure that your record reflects the truest picture of your health status and that the care you receive will be optimized. More than anything, it will keep you empowered to be in control of your own health and health care. 

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