The Benefits of Organizing Your Medical Records (Today, Not Tomorrow)

You’ll be a pro at filling in those “medical history” forms at the doctor’s office.

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Imagine you’re filling out paperwork at the doctor’s office, and it asks for your medical history. The panic sets in as you start mentally backtracking. How are you supposed to remember what happened a decade or two ago? What was that surgery called? What was that medication you took? This is a common problem for many people. The thing is, you could prevent this panic by getting your medical records organized.

The Benefits of Organizing Your Medical Records

Organizing your health records means having all important documents and information in one place, such as a binder or a “folder” on your computer. Ideally, you should arrange them in a way that’s easy to sort through and read. When you sort your health information like this, there are numerous benefits, including:

1. Easy access to important medical info

You’ve probably been in situations when someone asked you for a specific drug name or when you received a certain vaccine. If you have organized your medical records, you’ll be able to find that information in a cinch. Not only will it help you with paperwork, but it could also be important for treatment. Your doctors may need to know bits of your medical history to make informed treatment decisions.

2. Better understanding of your own health needs

Organizing your medical records may make you more knowledgeable about your personal health needs and history. Tracking your information can help you see patterns or remind you of your doctor’s instructions from a previous appointment. This is especially important if you’re managing multiple conditions. For example, you may notice that your blood pressure has increased since an appointment 10 years ago, or that last year your doctor recommended going on daily walks.

3. Emergency preparedness

In the event of a national disaster or a pandemic (ahem), having your medical records readily available could save your life. Make copies of your insurance information, a list of your current and past medications, and the names and numbers of all of your doctors.

4. Consistency from doctor to doctor

Having your medical records will improve communication when seeing multiple doctors, getting a second opinion, or switching to a new primary care doctor. For example, if you move and need to “start over” with a new primary care doctor, the transition will be easier if you have all your medical history available in one spot.

Getting organized can benefit your health, your doctor, and your sanity. There are many resources online that offer tips on organization. For example, find out what to include in your medical records here. If you have any questions about your medical records, talk to your doctor.