Keep Calm and Carry Your Own Health Records

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As a hockey mother, I have plenty of reasons to have my son’s health information right at my fingertips. For one thing, he is in danger of concussion. He has taken a baseline concussion test. Where are those results if I need them? No idea. He is in danger of getting cut by a skate. When was his last tetanus shot? Again, no idea. If he ends up in the emergency room with a head injury or cut, I have no information helpful information. What if he loses his asthma inhaler during an out-of-state tournament? Do I know the name of it? Nope. I don’t even know his blood type. (Who am I kidding—I don’t know my own blood type!)

On the other hand, I can look up his hockey stats, practice schedule and team standings on my smartphone anytime I want. Why don’t I have the same access to his health records? For all intents and purposes, that information is trapped at the pediatrician’s office. Yes, of course I could call and get this information—but they ask that you leave the phone lines open for illnesses in the morning. And they go to lunch from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. So, if I can remember to make that call from 1–5 p.m. on Monday through Friday, I can get it. (Or, more accurately, I can talk to someone about how I can get his health information at a later date.)

So, how can I get the same access to crucial health records that I have to fairly insignificant hockey records? (That’s right, I said it: Youth hockey records qualify as “fairly insignificant.”)

Creating a Personal Health Record

Clearly, I need to free this information from the confines of the pediatrician’s office, particularly as my son is about to graduate from high school and leave for college. This is where a Personal Health Record (PHR) comes in. A PHR is a paper-based or digital health history that includes information about insurance, illnesses, medications, test results, immunizations, blood type, family history and more. But even if I have all this information in hand, if he gets hurt in a college pick-up game, he’s the one who needs it—not me. And that’s where Evernote or FileThis come in. If I store his PHR in our family’s secure, searchable account, he can find out what he needs to know from anywhere, anytime. (For a frenzied hockey mom of two players—who has to therefore multiply this issue by two—the beauty of using our FileThis account is that I don’t need to create another account, remember another login and password, or learn yet another system!)

6 Reasons to Get Started on Your PHR Today

In the long run, keeping an up-to-date PHR for each member of your family can save you time, save you money, and maybe even save your life! Here’s how:

  1. Streamline the ACA Transition: If you need new insurance or a new doctor due to the Affordable Care Act, you will have all the records you need to make that change.
  2. Make Better Use of Doctor Visits: With all your information in one place, you don’t have to guess when a chronic condition last flared up or the names of everything you’re taking that might interact with something the doctor wants to prescribe.
  3. Get Instant Access: Whether you’re in the emergency room and need to know your insurance policy group ID or just want to know the prescription for your contacts while at Costco, you can find what you need in seconds.
  4. Save Money: Knowing what tests you’ve had, what the results were, and how an illness was treated can streamline future health care. This saves you money on copays related to doctor visits, tests, and prescriptions.
  5. Make Better Health Decisions: If you have a secure, convenient method for accessing information about your diet, medications, blood pressure, glucose levels, and more, you can make more information decisions about your health.
  6. Accurately Save for Future Health Costs: “If you have a chronic condition, a Personal Health Record can help you save money for future health-care costs,” says Elizabeth P. O’Donnell, MBA, a wealth manager.

How to Get Started

In the same vein as the WWII “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan, the key is to just get started and then be consistent. Don’t get overwhelmed by the prospect. Just take one step at a time and start compiling each family member’s information into a PHR. You’ll find great information and forms to get you started at http://www.myPHR.com.