Knowledge is power. Yet, when it comes to healthcare, most people don’t have any idea what’s in their medical record. Today, we’re going to break down some of our favorite reasons why you should get your records, understand what’s in them, and share them with your family and care team.
1. Know your health story!
Unless you’ve spent your life in a bubble, it’s highly unlikely that all of your health information is stored in one doctor’s office. Most of us have a past medical history that’s spread across multiple hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare facilities, assuming that the information just automagically is shared among providers.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. While patient portals have helped a bit, they are just a snapshot of your health story, and are only as good as the information that is entered into it. In many cases, that’s not much.
As a patient, it’s important to sneak a peek at all of your past medical history in order to understand your health story.
2. Find the errors
What you don’t know can hurt you. Knowing what’s in your medical records, including the things that shouldn’t be there is a critical piece of the health puzzle. A recent survey of CareSync Plus users told us that over half found some error in their charts, but one out of every three members had a significant error.
By collecting and reviewing what’s in your health record, you can be sure that it’s correct the next time it’s shared.
3. Understand your health
It’s one thing to collect your information just to have it, but it’s a completely different thing when you actually go through your complete history and see the notes the provider made. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. If instructions in a care plan confuse you? Ask for clarification.
It’s easiest to understand your health story when it’s in a consumable format. That’s why we designed the Health Timeline, a chronological, complete health record, that’s easily filtered to access and share relevant information.
4. Care Plans
Most people have a relatively low “health literacy,” and it affects almost everything we do. Care plans are often given in “medicalese,” a language that few of us speak. For example, when a doctor says diet, he typically means food. Not that you should go on a diet. So many people leave their appointments confused about their care plan…assuming they remember it at all!
Reviewing your medical records from past medical visits can provide key indicators to remind you what you should be doing. Take this pill after dinner. Exercise for at least 30 minutes five times per week. Sometimes we just need a reminder!
Speaking of reminders, CareSync allows you to create actionable tasks and set medication reminders…never miss a dose again!
5. About those medications…
If you have 5 different doctors, chances are pretty good that you have five different medication lists. I know that some people keep accurate lists of their medications, or actually remember to collect them all and bring them to their doctors appointment…but most people give inaccurate information about their medication lists.
By collecting and understanding your health story, you can make sure that all of your doctors are up-to-date on your real medication list. CareSync makes it ridiculously easy to enter, organize and share your prescription medications, vitamins and supplements, and “as needed” medications like Tylenol.
6. Lab results
I attended a conference last week, and the former Chief Privacy Officer for the ONC, Joy Pritts, quoted that about 70% of the time, doctors don’t communicate adverse test results with their patients. Say you pop into the local urgent care center after fighting a fierce cold for a few days and they run some lab tests and tell you that they’ll call you if there are any problems when the results come in.
Perhaps you didn’t have what they were looking for, but your iron was low…chances of you knowing that without looking at your doctor's notes are pretty slim.
On a positive note, as of October 6, 2014, for the first time ever, you can request your lab results directly from the lab, rather than having to go through your doctor. Now you have NO excuses for not knowing that your iron was low!
7. Being prepared in an emergency
It’s been said that 80% of diagnoses can be made from your health story, and not expensive, unnecessary, and often dangerous tests. If you’ve got your medical history, and actually carry it around on your smartphone, you’ll be able to simply convey health information like allergies, or even baseline measurements of your health.
I was recently talking to the parents of a child with a rare disease. In this particular disease, the patient’s EKG is incredibly important - they have to carry the most recent with them everywhere they go. If they ended up in the emergency room, and some tests were run without their baseline information, most doctors would treat them as if they were having a heart attack, even though that is their norm.
The morale of that story? Understand your health and be prepared for emergencies.
8. Be a better patient (or caregiver)
When you understand your health story, you feel exponentially more confident in the care that you receive. You’ll build better, more trusting relationships with your doctors, and you’ll find that the entire experience is more pleasant when you’re avoiding unnecessary tests and expensive procedures, because you can share relevant information with the people who need it, no matter where you are.
Did you know that nearly 70% of referral appointments happen with ZERO information being exchanged? Imagine being referred to a rheumatologist. You’ve waited 9 weeks for the appointment, and today is the day. You’re thrilled that this doctor is going to kickstart the plan that makes you feel better.
But wait. You get there, and he has NO idea why you’re there, knows nothing about your past medical history, and you barely remember what your primary care doctor said that landed you in the specialist’s office in the first place.
Ugh. A wasted afternoon. A wasted vacation day. Get your records, share your records - get more out of your doctors appointments.
Are you a caregiver? Having the information you need, no matter where you are, and being able to share it with the people who need it (no matter where you are) makes dealing with your caregiver duties a heck of a lot easier. Even when you’re across the country, being able to transfer knowledge to help a loved one receive better care is incredibly powerful.
So let me ask one last question...
Why would you ever go without understanding your health story again? I think the only real answer to that question is that it’s a big, overwhelming process to collect, organize and store medical records.
That’s why we created CareSync. For $99, we’ll collect all of your available medical records from all of the providers you tell us about. We’ll scan in the entire medical record, and then we’ll build your personalized Health Timeline from the Plan and Assessment of your past doctors appointments.
You can access, filter, and share your health story from your iPhone or Android smartphone (or tablets), as well as on the web at www.caresync.com. We’ll even give you a 60-day trial of our healthcare concierge services that include appointment scheduling and care coordination.
It takes less than 5 minutes to get started and request your first records. The team of CareSync Health Assistants are ready to build your complete health history for you. For less than dinner and a movie date night!