Keeping Your Personal Health Records
As a cancer patient, visiting your doctor became a big part of your routine. Now, as a cancer survivor, it’s likely you’ve noticed that you still need to visit your doctor somewhat regularly— at least more than people who have never experienced a serious illness. You’ve probably also noticed all the paperwork that comes along with those visits — some of which you might be wondering about. At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, we want to make sure you fully understand the documents that comprise your personal health records, including what you need to keep, why, and for how long.
Cancer Treatment Survivor Summary: A Cancer Survivor’s Most Important Health Record
It’s important that you keep a summary of your health records throughout treatment. This document should list your exact cancer diagnosis and when you received it, what stage your cancer was, and any other relevant information that came from your pathology report. It should also describe all of the cancer treatment(s) you received.
Essentially, this document should reflect any pertinent information that could affect your health in the future.
Your cancer treatment summary is highly important!
Keep in mind that most doctors you see in the future won’t know your medical history. Because of this, we recommend that you share a copy of your treatment summary with them. Additionally, tracking down individual health records after time has passed can be incredibly challenging. Sometimes, it’s impossible. However, keeping a treatment summary ensures that you have easy access to your pertinent medical records when you need them.
The medical terms on the sheet can be hard to understand for many people, and that’s okay. What matters most is that it will provide great insight for any future physicians who may need to provide care for cancer or another condition.
Other Important Medical Records to Keep
Some other important medical records to hold onto include:
- Current and past medications (including information about allergies or adverse reactions to medications)
- Immunization records
- Records of past appointments, including the date and the doctor’s name
- Treatment plans for existing health conditions
- Hospital bills
- Results from imaging tests
- Records detailing other past major illnesses
It’s important to understand that your physician may only be required to keep your records for a limited period of time. And even if your physician still does have your records, they may ask you to pay a retrieval fee.
Keeping Track of Your Health Records
These days, electronic medical records (EMRs) for patients are commonplace among healthcare providers. With that said, there is no guarantee that this method of record keeping is always reliable. Providers are not perfect and they are often incredibly busy. Because of this, it’s a good idea to personally keep track of your records rather than solely relying on your providers to do so.
The good news is that managing your records is easier than you realize— especially if you’re comfortable with tracking them digitally. Today, you can find various apps to help organize your medical records using your smartphone, personal computer, or tablet. This article mentions 10 apps you can look into for starters. The technology is right there at your fingertips so make sure you take advantage of it!
Of course, keeping paper copies as a backup is always smart. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of your RMCC cancer care team so they can help you get copies of all your important health records (especially records related to your cancer treatment). Then, be sure to store them safely and conveniently at home so you can have them ready each time you meet with a new medical provider.