As an adult, you are now making your own life decisions. You decide what you eat, where you go, and where you live. You must shop for food and everyday items. You are responsible for paying your bills. But what about your health care? You might go to the doctor or dentist by yourself. You might have your own insurance.
But do you have access to your medical records? Can you quickly tell a doctor about your health history? For many young adults, keeping track of health records has always been a parent’s job and unfortunately, it is an area that is often forgotten during conversations about what it means to be an adult.Whether you are moving from a pediatrician to an adult doctor or changing your primary care to a practice near your college or new residence, having access to your medical records is a huge help. Your new doctor needs this information to provide you with the best care. Whether it is treatment for a new condition, ongoing care for an existing condition, or performing annual check-ups, knowing your health and immunization history is important. The good news is, with apps and e-records, this process is easier than ever before. The following are tips to help you gather and maintain your medical records.
Request your complete medical records
You are entitled to receive a copy of your medical records. If you are changing providers, it is also a good idea to have your complete medical records sent to the new provider. There are privacy laws (HIPAA) surrounding the request for records. You will need to complete an authorization and your provider might charge a fee.
You will need to supply the name, address, phone and fax number for your new health care provider(s). Check with both your current and new health care provider for any additional requirements. Expect the process to take about 30 days. If you have seen multiple doctors, remember to contact each one for your records.
Check to see if your physician uses an online patient portal
Today, many health providers have medical records accessible to their patients through an online portal. This requires signing up through your current provider’s office. If your doctor has this available, call to speak with an administrator in the office and ask how you can access your records. This allows you to see all past medical history and test results online.
Contact your pharmacy
While your medical records should include any prescribed medications, it can also be helpful to ask your pharmacy for a print out of your prescription history. This is particularly helpful if multiple doctors are prescribing medication.
Decide where you want to keep your copy
If you have chosen to keep a personal copy of your medical records, decide where you want to keep them. Some people prefer to use a three-ring binder, allowing you to bring a copy of your records to all doctor’s appointments. Others prefer to keep them on their computer and will scan in all receipts, test results, and prescriptions.
Decide, based on your lifestyle, which method is best for you. There are also a number of apps which will help you track and share medical records. iBlueButton, Track My Medical Records, and ChartSpan are a few of the comprehensive apps that will allow you to have your medical records with you wherever you have access to the app. Review the benefits and costs of each app and speak with your primary doctor to see if his or her office has a preference or usually works with a specific app.
Besides managing your medical records, as a young adult, you should be able to manage your health care. It is important for you to know:
- Contact information for your primary doctor, as well as any specialists you see on a regular basis
- How to call and make an appointment
- When to call the doctor: what are warning signs of illnesses that require medical attention
- Your family health history
- How to talk about your health history and current medical condition
- Where and how to get your prescriptions
When having prescriptions filled, it is always a good idea to use the same pharmacy for all of them. That way, should there be any questions on drug interactions, your pharmacist has a record of all of the medications you are taking.