The first sign of a Smart Patient is that telltale document they produce during their first visit, or even their fiftieth. It's a portent of a beautiful partnership -- that is, when it's not a form they need signed for their job, or a note asking one of our office assistants about their dinner plans. If we're lucky, it'll be their health profile. It's the sign of a patient who means business, one who will challenge us to be at our absolute best and who won't waste time and money on redundant and unnecessary efforts (which can lead to errors). To create the perfect health profile, circa early twenty-first century, flip ahead to appendix 2, Sample Forms, and find the forms labeled Your Health Journal. Make copies of them, or rip them out if that's handier. The forms are also online at www.jcrinc.com and www.realage.com.
Fill them out.
Finished? Everything? You're done. That is, if you don't have any questions, and you're sure it's all correct. Just bring those forms to your doctor along with a baggie filled with every medication, vitamin, herb, or whatever else you take regularly (in their original bottles). Store copies of the forms in a fireproof safe, and update them yearly or whenever a piece of key info changes. Everyone's happy.
What's that? It wasn't that simple? You don't know all the info by heart or have it filed neatly in your credenza? Now, that's woefully human of you. If you're like most of our patients, you've never compiled your important health info before, and you may not have the foggiest notion of where to find much of it -- or even if it exists at all. Even with using the forms as guides, your records may be so scattered that you don't know where to start.
Let's take it from the beginning.
Start in Top Form
Fill out all the easy stuff on the forms labeled Your Health Journal, such as your birth date, address, your doctor's contact info, your pharmacy, your insurance info, and everything else listed. As you may suspect, this will be your master form, the one you perhaps store on your computer, and give out whenever necessary, including when you visit a new medical professional or step foot in a hospital. (Take at least two copies, and always give one to the admitting nurse who welcomes you to your bed.) This form won't just make your life easier, it'll prevent a severe case of hand cramps from rewriting half of this info dozens of times in the future. And bypassing twenty occasions that require you to blearily check boxes before you've had your morning coffee (and having another fallible person decipher that scrawl) is a no-brainer way of reducing errors.
Under the section entitled Your Health Now, write down every significant ailment or condition that you have right now. This would be the place to list ongoing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, psoriasis, depression, back pain, and the like. Don't include anything you had years ago but don't have now; that goes in a different place. Be certain to include anything that you're taking medication for, even if the specific symptoms are gone; for example, if you're controlling your high blood pressure with medication, list high blood pressure. Next to each condition, list when you were diagnosed, what medication you're taking for it, if any, and any other relevant info. If you're not sure if it's relevant, jot it down. That's why your doctor's office assistant has Wite-Out.