Did you know that there’s an easy way to improve the healthcare you receive? According to the AARP, tracking and keeping your medical information in one place is that way. If you know your own history, you can be your own best advocate. It also works as a great tool if you take care of loved ones or are a professional caregiver. Want to find out how taking this one simple and easy action can improve your health care? We’re going to look at the five major reasons why you need to have access to your medical history.
1. Know Your Risks for Hereditary Diseases and Disorders
A good medical history will include health information from you and your close family.
Risks for diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancers can be genetically inherited. While this doesn’t mean you’ll become ill, you can plan accordingly.
Doctors may recommend more frequent mammograms for patients with a family history of breast cancer, for example.
It can also be a good guide for lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or increasing exercise.
2. Keep Track of Medications
Surprisingly, when asked by doctors, most people give incorrect information on their medication lists.
It’s not your fault if you don’t remember everything. Your medical records, though, provide an easy way to keep track of your medicine. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications, like painkillers, should also be included.
A study showed that patients with access to their medical records were better at regularly taking medication as prescribed.
3. To Help Family Members Who Are at Risk of Disease
Your medical history isn’t just for your benefit.
You can use it to alert other family members of their predisposition to getting certain diseases.
Be sure to update your family history as children are born or if family members develop illnesses. After you add them, inform your doctor of the changes.
This could be a valuable tool for the generations yet to come.
4. To Be a Better Patient
For the patient, it helps to be informed before you go to the doctor. You can then ask the right questions and feel more secure in your care.
Also, if you want to become a patient advocate you will need to know how to summarize a patient’s medical chart.
Caregivers can also use it as a quick and easy reference to share with the people who work with their loved ones.
5. Your Medical History Can Be Invaluable in an Emergency
When there’s limited time, your medical information could mean the difference between life and death.
Or, in less serious situations, it saves valuable time searching for relevant facts like medications or allergies.
Next Steps to Take
Not only should you have your own medical records but your doctor should be handing you his or her plan to get you to your healthcare goals.
For example, when my patients were diagnosed with diabetes, I handed them this book that gave them the outline of what we needed to do to get them to at least the A1c 6.0 goal.
This book, Reverse My Diabetes Now, is a checklist of all the tests, procedures, and recommendations we followed to get them losing weight and reach their A1c goal.
If I forgot to order a test, they promptly reminded me. And for me, this was real teamwork.
If you have diabetes, pick up a copy of this book and make sure you work with your doctor on your healthcare plans.