I've been a tad under the weather for the last few months. While I like to think it's a bad case of "work-too-much-itis," it's actually something that requires some attention, more rest than I get, and figuring out the right combination of treatments.
But here's my problem. I am all over the place. I spend about 1/3 of every month in Tampa for work, another 1/3 at home in Baltimore, and then the remaining third is spent traveling to events, visiting friends and family, and, oh, well, having a little bit of a life. Oh, and I am a working mom, elementary school volunteer, and when there's time left, a runner.
I was in DC a couple of weeks ago for the big Health Datapalooza conference. It was such a great opportunity to be able to go and rub elbows with some of the healthcare technology elite. AND, I was invited to participate in Regina Holliday's Walking Jacket Gallery. A big deal.
Mid-afternoon, as I was finishing up some design work for CareSync, and getting ready for my big (rainy) evening out, I folded over in pain. No! Not now. No. No. No.
Fast forward a few hours later...I am in a city away from home, away from my family and friends, and I am in the emergency room.
When I walked into the ER, I assumed it was kidney stones. I've had them before. This felt the same. So, as expected, my exams were heavily focused on kidney stones. I was given medicine that helps allieviate the pain from stones, and was still folded over in pain. What the heck?
The labs come back. It's not stones.
Wait. I have the the lab results from some other, possibly related, tests that I had done about 4 weeks ago. On my phone. In my CareSync account. Those labs came back slightly abnormal, and I have an appointment to have the same test done as a follow up in August. But wait.
Could it be the same thing?
I brought up my concerns to the ER doctor on call. He kind of blew me off, and despite being the most non-confrontational person out there, I demanded he come back and look at my results.
"You have your test results on your phone?"
Why yes. Yes I do. And because I do, you've now started to pay attention to me. And we've not reordered tests that I can show you were done a month ago, and I feel exponentially more in control with what's going on than what I did when I got here.
I avoided tests. I saved time. I checked a couple more boxes off of what could be wrong with me. I truly felt in control.
I was able to leave around 3 am, and still make all of the next day's conference sessions. I scheduled a follow up appointment with my primary care physician for the next week, and you better believe that I went out of my way to get access to my ER visit medical records, including my CT scan CD; those records make up a very important piece of my health story.
When I sat down with my PCP the following week, we had actionable items to go through--we know, based on what we've done, that X, Y and Z are all true, and meds A, B, and C have been taken. By organizing the facts around the health condition, he and I were able to make smart decisions, together, for my care. Instead of leaving with yet another Rx thrown at me, I left with a solid plan and a fantastic sense of perceived progress toward getting better.
So often, the pieces of data exist in various silos...the ER in DC, the urgent care facility in Tampa, my primary care doctor, my neurologist at Johns Hopkins...nobody has ANY impetus to bring this all together other than me. Yet, it really is all so linked and the outcomes are so much better when we're all in the know.
So, very long winded story later...I was able to save time, money, energy, and not receive another horrible EOB from my insurance company by being in control of my records and being able to take a more proactive approach to my care.
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