My medical records could be a best-seller

How do we get around the redundancy of the current triaging system?

In the last 12 months alone I have amassed quite a thick file of medical records; from scans to diagnoses and undefined medical revelations. Add that to the 20 previous years of fruitless ultrasounds for burst cysts, a gallbladder removal, and many many tests to help with pain from undiagnosed endometriosis; my health records could definitely be a best-seller in the ‘one hit wonder’ section of the local book store. I’ve had medical scares across Canada, and in the US, so maybe they could double shelve my book in the travel section as well?!?

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I have discovered over the last few years that there are thousands of us wanderers of the medical system, floating from one specialist to another, searching for answers of some kind. Our medical records are strewn across multiple hospital systems, our prescription files are never up to date, and above the anxiety that comes along with meeting yet another wide-eyed doctor we get asked the same questions over and over again:

Who is your family doctor? What is his/her information? Who are your other specialists? Can we get the medical records from them? What prescriptions are you on (Medical names only please)? How frequently do you take them and what dose? You’re on that?… what for? I see you’ve had this test done. Did anything come of it?

Not only does this become rather redundant for the patient, but it must feel like a waste of time for triage as well. Information is only half accurate, stuck together like random thoughts, and bumbling out of the mouth of a nervous patient. To be honest, my medical story is becoming too long to spew out on a whim. So to find a solution to my problem, I set out to find out what some of my fellow Spoonies do in this situation.

“I have everything in a word document. All my surgeries, testing, physicians, medications, allergies, treatment centers I’ve been to. With addresses and phone numbers.” – spoonie with Ulcerative colitis

“I just write all my prescriptions and doses in my notes app or a notebook” -spoonie with Endometriosis

For the most part people are using good ol’ fashioned pen and paper to keep track of their history. Some of them have gotten fancy and have prepared binders full of notes and scans spanning many years. At random a few medical apps like MediSafe were mentioned a couple of times which is a good sign. However, most apps either only cater to prescription and renewals, OR medical history, OR symptom tracking. Some apps are only available in certain geographical regions. And others just don’t seem to work seamlessly. I can’t seem to find a one-size-fits-all solution. There may be hope in a few new apps I’ve come across lately, like Toronto-based Dot Health. This app (so far) crosses off most of the necessary items: consolidating physician information, acquiring medical records, prescription information and notifications of prescription renewal through partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. I’ve completed the download, and the preliminary physician information it required of me, but now I wait until they gather my history and put the puzzle back together.

It looks like app developers – catering to the technology driven generations – are making revolutionary changes in the way we handle our health care system, providing the patient more of the power to be their own advocate. I just wish there was a better way to incorporate all of these pieces together: the medical history (records of previous tests and diagnosis), the medical current (prescriptions, daily routines, tracking of symptoms, tracking of side effects to new stimuli) and the medical future (predictive outcomes of stimuli such as foods, stress, exercise and medications). But I’m thinking, it’s a bit too much to ask.

What do you use? Any comments and suggestions welcome!

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