Keep a Medical Portfolio
Like it or not, life with long-term illness comes along with a lot of information and paperwork to keep straight. While the amount of data, records, guides, and test results can easily become overwhelming, letting this information slip through the cracks can be harmful to your treatment and recovery. Think of each bit of information as a puzzle piece: if one is missing, it’s difficult to see the whole picture. A lost lab result, discarded clinical summary, or forgotten medication side effect could have been crucial in properly assessing your health status and treatment plan.
By keeping an organized “Medical Portfolio”, you are creating a holistic picture of your health and medical story. A medical portfolio will help you keep organized, track changes to your health status and symptoms, identify triggers as well as helpful treatments, and prove an invaluable tool for preparing for and making the most of provider visits.
You can keep your medical portfolio in hard copy using a three-ring binder or accordion folder. Alternatively, you can keep an electronic copy as an encrypted file on your personal computer or external hard drive. Stick with a system that works for you!
What should you include in your Medical Portfolio? Here is a list of the basics:
Visit Tools for Your Journey to download free templates for many of the documents listed below.
- Research: Scientific articles, reports, and current news about your medical condition(s) that interest you and may be appropriate to discuss with your medical provider(s). Read more about gathering information
- Lab and diagnostic results: Including blood work, imaging, biopsy results, and other diagnostics. Read more about labs and diagnostics.
- Treatment History: A summary and timeline of treatments for your medical condition(s) – this includes western medicine treatments such as surgeries and medications, as well as complementary treatments and therapies, including lifestyle changes like special diets or exercise regimens.
- Clinical summaries: Written summaries of all health care provider appointments. Request a print out of your clinical summary at the end of your appointment, or download it from your health care provider’s online patient portal, if available.
- Symptom Diaries: Records of any symptoms related to your physical, mental, or emotional health, as well as possible side-effects of any medications or other therapies.
- Medications sheet: A detailed list of all current prescriptions, vitamins, and supplements, including dosage and intended usage information.
- Healthcare team info: A list of all your medical providers and other healthcare practitioners.
- Health history: A complete history of your medical conditions (remember to include information on mental and emotional diagnoses – such as depression and anxiety – as well as physical conditions).
- Family medical history: You may have to do some detective work to complete a thorough and accurate family medical history, but the “clues” it can provide your doctor will be worth it!
- Info provided by doctor or healthcare provider: Any disease or treatment specific information provided to you by any of your healthcare practitioners.