Taking control of my personal medical information

Taking Control of My own medication 2013-02-28

This past January, we were planning a holiday to the United States. I was excited, but at the same time a bit worried too. My medical conditions can flare up unexpectedly, and I end up in hospital.

I usually carry a binder with me, full of my latest medical information and test results. It also includes information about my allergies, protocols on giving IVIG, and other medications I require because of my severe latex allergy. The binder is so big and cumbersome that I often ask my husband or children to carry it.

As we were planning this last trip, my husband John came up with a great idea: Why not store and carry all of my important medical information on a simple memory stick? After all, most doctors’ offices have computers, as do hospitals.

A brilliant idea, yes, but probably hard to do, I figured. To my surprise, it was easy to scan and save all of my documents.  Then I organized them into different folders: one for allergies, one for personal information, one for IVIg protocol, etc.

Heather USB stick

I was nervous about not bringing along my huge binder. But felt better knowing that I could access all of this information through a computer.  I decided to test it out before the trip, at my local hospital. It worked amazingly: it was easy to access and view all of my information. John brought his laptop along on our trip, which put my mind even more at ease.

Heather USB stick2

Fortunately, we didn’t need to access any of my medical information on this holiday.

I would encourage others to consider carrying their own health information with them at all times. It helps tell your story if you can’t.  All I have to do now is update my information after each doctor’s visit.  All of my doctors are very impressed with what I have done; they have no issues giving me copies of different items so I can add to my memory stick.


I think having all my information organized and updated sends a signal to my caregivers that I am actively participating in my health care.

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4 Responses to “Taking control of my personal medical information”

  1. Corinne Haack
    March 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm #

    Great idea to put it on a memory stick. Will have to think about doing that for our binder as well. Afraid mine probably isn’t as up to date as yours because I often forget to ask for the documentation. We have one specialist that sends the visit notes to us – that makes my life wonderful. Can’t wait to see it all in one patient record that I and all our providers can access.

    See you at Quality Summit!

    • Heather Thiessen
      Heather Thiessen
      March 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

      Thanks Corrine

      I have found that the memory stick is not only a lighter load but a better system. Hopefully, in the time we will have electronic health records available and all my medical history would only be a click away. Until then I am pretty happy with my system. It’s easy and I felt safer knowing it was with me at all times. Where sometimes my book was left in the car or hotel.

      It’s easy to set up so feel free to try it out.

      I am looking forward to Summit. See you there!!!

  2. Dennis Kendel
    February 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    Great idea. I’d suggest you submit the idea to CAA for their news magazine as more travelers could benefit from this approach .

    • Heather Thiessen
      Heather Thiessen
      March 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      Thanks so much!! I may just have to do that. I appreciate the feedback.

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