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Personal Health Records

The discussions in my life this week are about how much everyone’s insurance premiums are going up and how little time the doctor can spend with each patient per visit. This news is not lost on my household as we pay a phenomenal amount each month for our very high deductible health plan and then huge co-pays and deductibles on each procedure or referral. The folks I met with Monday evening were alarmed because now their doctors can only spend 11 minutes per visit per patient. We need to get more like the Boy Scouts now and BE PREPARED for each visit.

Medical Illustration

No one knows more about you and your health than YOU. Your body is your responsibility and something you must be knowledgeable about. The doctor is really just a guide to assist you in your plan for wellness. It seems to help me to write things down and to advocate for myself.

I have developed a chart for each appointment and a family schedule. Not only does this chart help me to focus my attentions before the appointment but the appointment goes much smoother and the outcome is clearer to everyone involved. The family schedule is to keep us from not having 5 dental cleanings in the same month as sport physicals for school – who could afford that? My insurance company has a small Personal Health Record of all my latest appointments and prescriptions, which I can print out and take with me on a trip or to a referral physician. This record really just turns out to be what I have paid for and the insurance company has paid. Over the past dozen years, I have found my notes and charts to be more reliable and to give a clearer picture of my health and my needs.

Here is what I have on my one page piece of paper:

Section #1: Vital Statistics

Blood pressure, pulse, weight, height, temperature = all those things the medical assistance does as he or she gets you into the exam room. They also ask about you concerns today for the doctor’s information and to “code” their page for their exam. I just give the assistant a copy of my chart.

Section # 2: Medications

This is a list of any medication I am taking including over the count items I have taken over the past month. I list how many doses remain and have a spot to make a check mark if I need a renewal.
I leave a little room for notes about any medication that has side effects for me and to note if the medication is part of my concerns section.

Section #3: Prevention and Care

I like to put my exercise routine and my personal care routines into this section. Such as, I have just had to limit my aerobic exercise because of torn ligaments in my foot, so I substituted longer walk times for the higher pressure speed- walking, this change was significant in controlling blood pressure issues.

Section #4: Concerns and Plan of Action

I try not to list more than 3 items in this spot, and I leave plenty of room for notes on what the doctor suggests and recommends. When being seen for the foot ailment, I was sure to supply the date of the fall and what kind of activity I was involved in; what I have been doing for personal care.

As my Doctor inputs the data on her computer, we conclude what will be the plan of action and when I will report in the next time. I want to make sure I know what something is called, how it functions and that I am preparing to do the right action to have a healthy future. I was fortunate to have a hand held computer when I was taking my 90+ year old mother to all her doctor’s appointments and often my notes came with us to our next appointment ahead of the doctor’s transfer of information from her previous appointment. On the small computer, I had months of appointments so that we could trace the progression or consult a complete three year history.

At the bottom of the page: My health Goal

I have a personal health goal and I write it along the bottom of the chart to remind us to keep this concept in mind. My current goal is to be the healthiest I have ever been in my life by my next decade birthday.

Preparing for my last appointment took about 6 minutes of my time and a moment to allow the printer to send me two copies. The medical assistant took 6 minutes to do the vitals and get the copy of my chart, the young doctor on his internship and I talked for 30 minutes and each learned a great deal about me, and then my doctor arrived listened to her student and it was a vital 15 minutes of good health planning and information for me. I felt well pleased about spending the $200.00 appointment visit fee and I was closer to reaching my goal. What a team effort and all within the allotted time frame.

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