Set the records straight

Organise your medical records so you find them when you need them most

lady doctor explaining importance of health records to her patient

Do you often find yourself rummaging through your drawers and cupboards for medical bills to be submitted just before the deadline? Or can’t remember where you last kept your prescription when it could save the day? We usually curse ourselves in such situations for not maintaining a proper record. But as soon as we find what we’re looking for, we forget about it, leaving the chance for this chaos to repeat itself.

Maintaining our personal health record may require a bit of our time and effort, but it is definitely worth the pains in the long run. Not only does effective personal health management give us insights into our health problems, but a lot of us fail to realise that it can also save us a lot of money.

So, don’t delay filing your records, even if it seems like a Herculean task; start today!

Step 1

Begin by tracking all your health information. Gather all the prescriptions, reports, doctor’s and hospital bills or any other relevant medical document.

Step 2

Then, sort out all this information into different folders or one folder demarcated with different titles as follows:

1. General health: This should contain prescriptions/papers of all your visits to the doctor according to the date. The reports of investigations, if any, should also go here. Remember, these reports are precious—even if they are normal, save them for future comparisons.

Chronic diseases: This section should contain documents related to any chronic disease [such as diabetes, hypertension or arthritis] you may have. Filing these helps keep track of the medicines and follow-ups with your doctor. It also helps follow the progress or deterioration in your condition.

Annual health check-up: Medical professionals keep urging everyone to get a complete health check-up once a year to prevent any untoward medical emergency. Besides, in case of any emergency, all tests, such as blood group, would not have to be repeated since you would have records of recent reports. You need to keep a record of all the previous annual check-ups as well.

Accidents/serious problems: All documents pertaining to any past medical emergency like heart attack, fracture, stroke should be kept in a separate section. This also gives crucial information to insurance companies to give cover for your medical bills.

Step 3

You can also scan these documents and maintain soft copies as back-up in your computer or pen drive. Taking the pen drive with you when travelling on vacation or business trips is a wise decision as it can help tremendously if you are ever faced with a medical situation, where you don’t have access to your family doctor.

When a proper system is in place, it can be used as a private reference to keep your family informed about your health history. It can reduce or eliminate duplicate procedures or processes thereby saving you money and time. But above all, it will help you gain peace of mind for having control over your own health and this, in turn, will encourage you to become more involved in the process of your wellbeing.

On the move

Along with your first aid kid, don’t forget to pack these when you are travelling:

  • Personal identification that includes name and birth date
  • People to contact in case of emergency
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of your doctor, dentist and specialists
  • Health insurance information
  • Current medications and dosages
  • Immunisations and their dates, if you remember
  • A list of things you are allergic to
  • Important events, dates, and hereditary conditions in your family history
  • Any herbal or alternative medication that you may be following
  • Dietary practices i.e. whether you are a vegetarian or follow a certain kind of diet due to a medical problem.
Sheela Pershad is medical Superintendent at the Lilavati Hospital & Research Centre.


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