How to Organize Your Important Records
Organized medical records make it easier, faster, and less frustrating to seek medical treatment and to give your care providers information on your history. You may also need to pull out medical records if you seek legal advice on an issue or if you’re dealing with an insurance claim.
If you have an extensive medical history or a large family, it may be tough to keep your records and paperwork in order. However, organizing these important records ensures they’re easily accessible and available whenever you need them. Follow these tips for medical record organization so you have peace of mind knowing your paperwork is in order.
Create a List of Important Contacts
One document that includes contact information for your medical providers, pharmacies, health insurance companies, and emergency contacts is helpful if you’re attempting to seek emergency medical treatment or simply make an appointment. Create a list of your important contacts and for each contact, be sure to include their:
- Full name (or the name of the facility).
- Phone number.
- Email address, if applicable.
You may store this document electronically but it’s also beneficial to print it out and keep it somewhere easily accessible in case of an emergency.
Keep Track of Billing and Insurance Documents
Insurance documents, invoices, billing information, and payment receipts should also be kept organized and together in one place. If you receive a medical bill and need to reference whether you’ve already paid it, you can easily refer to this documentation.
The insurance and billing documents you need to organize will depend on the claims you’ve made in the past, but you should consider keeping track of:
- Workers’ compensation insurance policy or claim information.
- Short- and long-term disability coverage information.
- Medical insurance claim explanation of benefits.
- Paid and outstanding invoices from medical providers.
Keep one folder for your policies and coverage information and one folder for claims or invoices. Consider organizing these documents by date, keeping the most recent in the front.
Organize Medical History
New doctors and medical professionals are likely to request an overview of your medical history when you visit. When you present organized and thorough medical history records, you’re also less likely to experience a workers’ compensation denial or denial of coverage from your health insurance company. Organize your medical history by date and be sure to keep all documents pertaining to:
- Medical visits.
Include notes, logs, and lists of current and past medications when organizing your medical history.
Make a List of All Current and Past Medications
Medical providers are likely to ask about any past and current medications you take. This helps them evaluate your health and consider future treatment plans. Ideally, you should keep medication pamphlets that come with your prescriptions. Consider also making a list of these medications and including the following information:
- Medication names.
- The dosage you take (and that you took in the past, if applicable).
- Start and end dates.
- The purpose of the medication.
- Side effects you experience.
In your list, include prescribed medication, over-the-counter drugs, natural supplements, and vitamins you consistently take.
Log Symptoms and Side Effects
When you see a doctor or specialist about a possible health condition, they’ll need to examine your symptoms and side effects you’re experiencing to diagnose you. Keeping a log of what you’re feeling and when helps these medical providers to better analyze your situation.
It’s important to keep track of what you’re feeling, such as digestive issues, high blood pressure, low blood sugar, or other symptoms. Include details in your log on how you’re feeling, when it started, and how long it lasts.
Make Note of Nutrition and Activity Levels
Your doctor may also need to know about your eating habits and activity level when attempting to diagnose a potential medical condition. Keep track of what you usually eat, including portion size, and the exercise you generally perform. Keep this document with your medical records and bring it with you to your appointments.
Ensure All Your Records are Accessible
In case of an emergency, it’s crucial to have your medical records easily accessible. Your records should be organized and kept together, preferably in a file drawer.
However, you may want to consider keeping certain records hanging on your fridge or in a drawer that emergency personnel or family members could easily access. These easily accessible documents should include:
- Your list of important contacts.
- The list of medications you currently take.
- Information on your medical conditions.
- Your insurance card and coverage information.
While other records are also important to keep organized, these documents should be kept on hand to ensure your medical history, contacts, and conditions are available for review if there’s an emergency.
Digitize Your Records
Many healthcare facilities use electronic medical record systems. In the U.S., about 85.9% of all healthcare providers use at least one electronic medical record system. Digital medical records are easier to reference and keep organized, so ask your medical providers how to gain access to these records.
Your medical provider’s online system contains sensitive information about your health and medical history. Create strong passwords for your online account to keep your medical records safe. Consider signing up for two-factor authentication when available and don’t allow your computer, phone, or tablet to keep you logged into the medical system.
Even if you have digital medical records, it’s still a good idea to keep several copies of important health-related documents. Consider printing out a few hard copies of your:
- Contacts list;
- Insurance information;
- Prescription list;
- Medical history.
Keep copies of these documents easily accessible in your handbag or car so they’re available in case of an emergency or last-minute medical appointment.
Ask a friend or family member to keep a copy of these documents with them, just in case there’s a natural disaster, such as a fire or flood. Even if your copies are destroyed or lost, you’ll still have access to them, which is especially important if you need emergency medical treatment related to the disaster.
It’s tempting to throw away medical-related paperwork once a claim is closed or you heal from a medical condition. However, holding onto these documents and keeping track of medication and contacts makes it easier to provide this information when you switch doctors or in case of an emergency.
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