How records can improve your health

In business, records document past activities and inform future decisions. Your health is like a business. As the CEO of your own wellness, as you consider your options, medical records are your best friend.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a sharp mind accompanied by an excellent memory. But under stress – say in the emergency room – it’s hard to remember details and dates of past surgeries, immunizations, and allergies.

Medical hookups in a hospital room

When every minute counts, and the stakes are high, the need for accurate, readily accessible information about your past health history is never more important.

Take charge

As every manager knows, poor communications can gridlock the most effective operation.

Say your doctor, a valued advisor, just gave you a 20-minute list of recommended practices to follow in the coming days. You think you’ve got the instructions down pat, yet as soon as you leave the hospital, the confusion creeps in. What did she say again about which over-the-counter painkillers are okay to take, or how long to wait before your next follow-up appointment?

While verbal dialogue will always be critical, the written record has recognized long-term value. Misinterpretation can push events along on a sub-optimal path. Ask the doctor to put important remarks in writing for you if they’re not already in a system of record that you can access, or take your own notes for future reference.

Risk management

When it comes to your health, so much can go wrong. Of course, you can’t go around dwelling on every worst-case scenario, although it helps to have a plan for the most probable risks.

Your medical records need to be spot-on accurate.

Electronic medical records have made it easier to catch mistakes or inaccuracies. Good to understand, however, that even if the hospital keeps copies of your record on site, the volume of some patient files can make reading the information contained within challenging, especially in a time crunch. It’s much easier for the doctors just to ask you.

And, when you’re sick, things are constantly changing.

Maybe you discontinued a medication, or switched to a different type. Maybe you saw a doctor outside your network, and the results are relevant. It can be hard to come up with those troublesome details when you’re not feeling well.

Just as you would have an elevator speech for your business, prepare a summary listing your medical activities to have at the ready. Consider keeping a list of your major health milestones and prescriptions (extra points for correct spelling and dosage) somewhere safe – and ideally always at your fingertips. A handy solution is creating an shareable note on your phone so your loved ones can access it, too.

Your biggest decisions of all might depend on it.

Are your medical records in order?