Once you've started collecting your medical records, you can put them in a format that works best for you.
- File folders are a good way start collecting information. As your record grows you can use different color folders for different treatments or doctors.
- Three-ring binders can offer more protection if you're transporting your records back and forth from doctor visits. You can also add pages with pockets on them to keep track of any handouts your doctor gives you. You can divide the binder by year or by treatment.
- Computer disks or flash drives offer the best portability for your records. You can transfer electronic information directly to the disk or flash drive and carry that with you. Paper records can be scanned and stored as electronic files. Some people find that having both electronic and paper records is a nice way to have a back-up set of files.
- Internet medical record services can be accessed from your home computer. Some of these services are available free of charge and some require you to pay a subscription fee. Your doctor may use electronic health records and allow you to view and copy some of your records on the Internet. Some insurance companies are now offering Internet-based medical record storage for their clients.
As storing medical records electronically becomes more common, there are some concerns that health information privacy rights will be violated. The U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) gives U.S. residents rights over their health information. For more information on HIPAA, visit http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/
No matter how you store your personal medical records, the important thing is to start collecting the information. Knowing your health history allows you to be an active partner in your care so you and your doctors can decide on the best plan for treatment and long-term health for YOU.