Keeping Your Record Up-To-Date
If, for one reason or another, you should choose to leave your current family doctor or, as often happens, your family doctor retires, moves, changes careers or passes away - you will have to find a new physician. Sometimes your new doctor may even tell you he or she doesn’t require a copy of your personal health record. Where does that leave you? If your old doctor doesn’t have your complete medical history, and your new doctor doesn’t have it, and you don’t have it… then who has it? How can you receive informed, safe healthcare if no one has your medical record? That is one of the reasons why more and more Canadians are becoming proactive about healthcare management and maintaining a copy of their complete medical file.
Gathering Health Information
Keeping a personal copy of your health record involves gathering health information from multiple sources and, sometimes, in different formats, both paper and electronic. The greater your health concerns - the more doctors, clinics and/or hospitals you visit - the greater the complexity of the task. The medical records that doctors and health care institutions generate are their property – but you do have a legal right to a copy and many patients see an advantage in keeping an ongoing record of appointments, test results, prescriptions, etc. Most physicians and institutions charge a copying fee to make a copy.
Ways to Maintain Your Personal Health Record (PHR)
Today there are PC programs and online tools to help you acquire and organize this information. Some of these tools even allow you to share the health information you’ve gathered with other doctors and family members, if you so choose. These systems improve patient engagement, which usually leads to improved health outcomes. Alternatively, you can simply keep your collected records in a paper file folder or in a digital folder on your personal computer or even on a thumb-drive that you keep on your key-chain. How you store the information is up to you. Patient File Direct, a division of RSRS – Record Storage & Retrieval Services Inc., does not endorse or recommend any specific home-based system, PC application or online system for the collection and storage of personal health information.
When you gather and control your own health record online, your personal health record (PHR) is similar to the electronic health record that most modern primary care physicians maintain in their Electronic Medical Record systems. You can use an Internet-based PHR system to request your records from the original source for you, usually for a fee. Other online tools require you to add your information yourself, by either uploading digital files or scanning paper documents and then uploading them to the online service.
Types of Health Information
Because you control your PHR, it can track even more information than can be found in your doctor and hospital records.
Suggestions for what should be in your PHR:
In Case of Emergency
In case of emergency, especially when traveling out of province, you always want to keep a copy of your identification, like your driver’s licence and health card, the name of your primary care physician, contact information for people to contact in an emergency, and, how doctors can access your PHR.
Security and Confidentiality
If you’re concerned that this information may end up in the wrong hands, like that of an employer or prospective employer, there is no need to worry. Most PHR systems typically have strong privacy policies and, though most are web based, they have built-in digital protections to avoid unauthorized disclosure of your information. Of course, it’s important to check and assure yourself that these protections are in place before placing your confidential health information in any cloud-based (Internet) system.
Some employers offer "patient portals" through their health insurance benefits. Like other PHR tools, these portals can help improve patient engagement. These tools are usually offered by the insurance company and privacy protections must be robust (or the insurance companies place themselves in legal jeopardy).
It's Your Health Information
Remember that, in Canada, it’s your right to see and get a copy of your personal medical records from most health care providers, including physicians, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and any additional health insurer offering benefits outside of your provincial health plan.
Patient File Direct can help you get started. To order a copy of your medical record from a doctor storing records with us, click here or call 1-888-563-3732.