Medical Records

This article was published in The West End Times July 9, 2011.

Do ever wonder what everyone in the health care facilities is writing about you? Doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians all have their stories to tell….or YOUR story to tell. Every time you go to a clinic, CLSC, doctor’s office, another story is told. How does the new story fit with the one in the hospital? Does anyone see the real you? The whole you? Or is your life story a pile of papers, scrap notes, X-Rays, blood results, blood pressure graphs? Have you ever felt as if you were doing something wrong when to try to sneak a peak at your chart when no one is looking?

Don’t worry, you are not alone. The system is made to make you feel that the information is not your own. It belongs to everyone else…the doctor holds the information and tells you the results and the plan. The findings are paraphrased because you probably wouldn’t understand the medical language and on and on and on.

The time has come to say no to this paternalistic approach to health care. It is time to stand up and say “It is my life, my body, my story. I need all of the information to make informed decisions about my health”. It is your right to have all of the information, see the chart openly, and start your own complete coordinated record of your health. We all hear about the push for electronic health records (EHR’s). All provinces are in various phases of trying to implement this change. Because health care is a provincial jurisdiction, some provinces are doing better than others. Canada Health Infoway, supported by the Federal Government, are participating in many projects with the goal of having EHR’s for all Canadians……a huge task. My concern is the ownership of this record. I believe that individuals should own a copy and add to it as issues arise and/or improve. They should share this information with those who need it for their care. We can’t go the route that again, doctors and hospitals own your information and share only what they deem as necessary…the short version.

Because your medical history is spread out among your entire medical team, it’s a good idea for you to keep your own complete, updated records so you can play an active, informed role in your care. Knowing your medical history allows you to share accurate information with a new doctor, a nutritionist, a complementary medicine practitioner, or a personal trainer. In this way, you ensure that you continue to receive the best care possible.

Thinking about collecting all your medical information can seem overwhelming and daunting. But don’t feel like you have to get all this information right away. It’s a big job that you can work on a little at a time. A good way to start is to ask for a copy of your most recent records each time you visit a doctor or medical facility.

After you organize those, you can collect earlier records on a timetable that’s right for you. Still, you’ll have to be proactive and ask for your records to collect all the information you need. With technology now keeping our records organized, it can be easier. Start one step at a time. When you have lab work done, ask for a copy to be sent to you. The results can be scanned into your records and organized by date for future comparisons. By suggesting that we take charge and keep our own records, I am assuming that we want to know about our health and participate in the planning for our care.

Recently I submitted a proposal from Health Access and a technology company “TeleMedic” to Canada Health Infoway to develop a more complete picture of our health record by including the Home Care experience. Our records should reflect what happens after hospitalization and the diagnosis of a new disease such as Diabetes. It seems as if there is a growing interest in this type of idea because our proposal was chosen as one of the top five in Canada. Our good fortune means that we can now offer several families the opportunity to begin the process of developing their own health records using the technology we have been testing. Who’s up for the challenge????

Anyone interested in participating contact me at Health Access 514-695-3131. We can accommodate the first five families.