Between 2006 and 2010, we moved five times, lived in four states (one of them twice), and bought a couple of houses. We also had a baby, a couple of surgeries, a couple of hospitalizations, some immunizations, a complicated wisdom tooth extraction, more prescriptions than I'd like to count, and a lot of check ups.
Our medical paper trail is overwhelmingly all over the place. So overwhelmingly, I tended to shrug my shoulders and be thankful that I have the little card with all of Benjamin's immunizations.
But I know better. That's not enough. We needed to find the pieces that make up our family health record.
And as we began to research and build CareSync, I started the arduous process of pulling together the disparate pieces that make up our family's health record. To be honest, I actually just started with Benjamin's information because a, I already had a lot of it on paper, and b, he's only been alive for 6 years. How hard can it be? The joke was on me.
If you've never requested your medical records before, the process can seem a tad overwhelming, but a basic understanding of your rights as a patient, knowing the laws in your state, and following some of the following recommendations will help make the process a little easier.
- Start out by checking your practice or hospital's website for their policies regarding health record requests. It's nice to know what you'll need before you show up there without what you need. Plus, a lot of facilities keep these forms online, so you can fill them out in advance.
- When filling out the request forms, provide the most thorough information you can provide. More is more when it comes to getting these documents quickly--the faster the records department can find your data, the faster you'll have them in hand.
- Bring ID. And more than one form. With one practice, I needed to show two Social Security numbers, a birth certificate, and a driver's license. Worth noting, a records request will (and should) be denied if you cannot prove your identity.
- I found that it helps if you explain why you are requesting the records. For me, it was "I've moved and want to establish Benjamin with a new pediatrician." While I wanted his complete record, I suppose that there would be reasons why you'd just want a specific section. And since most practices charge for this, being specific might save you a few dollars.
- If the request is urgent, let them know. On the flip side, if it's not urgent, let them know that too. Most records departments will triage the requests. It just feels like one of those karma things to me.
- Plan ahead. I suspect this would have been a less painful process for me had I done this with any level of organization. It took more time than I anticipated, so my advice would be to get these as soon as you know you'll be moving...and not when you're trying to book your well-child visit 6 months later. I can assure you, that didn't work out so well for me.
- Store them somewhere. I am a tad biased, so I am going to suggest CareSync, but at an absolute minimum, scan them in and store them on some type of cloud-based system. My eyes tear up at the thought of going through this process again.
If you're still feeling overwhelmed, you've got options. At CareSync, we have a team of experienced Health Assistants who are on call to do the legwork for you. Our Health Assistants will reach out to your physicians to collect your paper and electronic records, and enter the data into your CareSync account. If you've seen a bunch of specialists, or are just disorganized like me, this is a fantastic option to get the pieces of your health record all in one place.
Not only is it incredibly convenient to have this data in your possession, it'll be one less thing you'll need to do when you're trying to get settled in your new neighborhood.
So my question now...who has moved more than I have in four years?