There are different ways you can go about it.
You’re looking at the stack of medical records in front of you and wondering how you’re ever going to start organizing all of these papers. You know it’s beneficial to organize your medical records, but how should you go about it? There’s that one bill from two years ago, the prescription information from when you had that infection, and your discharge papers from last October.
The good news is that you have options for how to organize your medical records. If you don’t like one method of doing it, you can choose another. Each method comes with its own pros and cons (as well as risks).
The Best Organization Methods
1. Create a medical records binder
You can get creative and pick any color binder you want. You can use sheet protectors, which can protect from any unwanted wrinkles or spills. Add tabs on the side to label the content to make files easy to find.
There are different ways to go about it:
- Keep everything for your family in one large binder, and create subsections for each person with tabs.
- Use one binder for each person. Create subsections with tabs to organize your general history, prescription history, all records related to a specific illness or accident, etc.
- If you’re dealing with a serious or chronic illness, keep all your records related to that illness in one binder. This may be useful for taking a more active role in your treatment for this condition.
Using a binder makes for easy access and transportability. However, a big risk is that it may be hard to maintain privacy and keep your records secure. If this is a concern, you could lock the binder within a locked safe or other secure place.
2. Get digital with a computer
Gather virtual records, or scan in your paper records. Organize the files into folders so they’re easier to find. For example, you could organize files into folders by year, by subject, or by person. Make sure to give the files and folders clear names so that you can easily skim or search your files to find the information you want quickly.
You could also store medical records on online drives or “clouds” (such as Google Drive or Dropbox) so you can access them anywhere. Again, this may be more convenient, but it does have the risk of being less secure and private. Most ideal is that you save your personal health information in an encrypted drive so that your privacy is protected.
3. Use a traditional filing system or portable file box
Use file folders to organize different types of records, and label the tabs so it’s easy to sort through. Some stores even sell portable file boxes so you don’t have to buy those heavy filing cabinets.
It would still probably be a good idea to scan the most important records and store them in an encrypted, HIPAA-compliant drive. HIPAA is a federal law that prevents disclosure of your personal health information. Companies that need to store users’ health information often use HIPAA-compliant drives because they help keep this sensitive information safe.
You may not think this is a big deal for your own health information. However, there are still some stigmas surrounding certain conditions or treatments, and people may use your information against you. An obvious example is someone getting treatment for HIV who doesn’t feel safe disclosing this information with their family members.
The Importance of Organizing Your Medical Records
You might be wondering why you’re even going through all this work. Your haphazard system has gotten you this far, right? Truth is, keeping everything organized will benefit you in the long run. If there is a national emergency or a medical one, you’ll have all of your information organized and ready in case you need to look for some specific records.
Make sure to pick the best option for you and your needs, and remember to keep an extra copy of your medical records around just in case there are any incidents. Time to break out the label maker!