Be an empowered patient: take back control of your healthcare
Whether you have a complex illness or you only see your doctor for the occasional checkup, many health professionals argue that ‘continuity of care’ is vital to delivering the highest levels of healthcare.
But what is continuity of care really about?
The term is used to describe the long-term partnership between a doctor and patient, whereby the two work together in the ongoing management of the patient’s health. Underpinning this is access to the patient’s information to allow for this high level of care.
The importance of continuity of care
Most people want their doctors to understand their unique situation and to be very familiar with their medical history. After all, medical matters can get complex - from remembering key dates to specific dosages of medication - it helps to know that there’s someone else who is fully across all of this important information.
And there can be dire consequences without continuity of care: as of 2019, approximately 230,000 Australians landed up in hospital due to errors due to medicine and medical-related errors. This is partly due to the fact that hospital records are incomplete or not well coordinated. In fact, many hospitals have numerous systems that operate independently from one another - let alone the systems used by other hospitals, meaning that patient records are rarely available when needed.
When patients have access to, and control of, their own health records, they’re able to change doctors and be safely admitted to different hospitals without any important information falling through the cracks. Ultimately, this is a win-win situation for both doctor and patient.
The good news is that taking control of your healthcare and adapting a process of continuous care is fairly straightforward. It will take some planning but will be worth the effort for the peace of mind it delivers.
Keep a good record of everything
With a complex illness comes multiple doctors, multiple appointments and mountains of administration to manage. Remembering appointments is hard enough, but on top of that you need to remember when to refill scripts, book your next check up or adjust your medication.
And while you’re doing that, you also want to be sure that all the other doctors you see are kept informed of any potential changes to your health.
Complex medical histories are easily managed with digital organisers like LifeBank, which is a safe and secure place to upload and store offline all of your important letters, prescriptions, or test results. With LifeBank, you no longer need to worry about finding the right test results for the right appointment - a common problem many chronically ill patients experience.
There are several benefits to keeping your medical information in a system like LifeBank.
For starters, there’s no need to rely on the Australian government’s digital health record summary, My Health Record.
With conflicting reports about its privacy and security, questionable guarantees about its ability to protect patients’ identities, and the fact that its records only date back to 2016, many people with complex medical histories are understandably skeptical of My Health Record.
LifeBank, on the other hand, stores all of your documents securely offline and is controlled only by you, so your information is guaranteed to be protected from online threats and external parties.
Sharing information with loved ones and doctors is also simple with LifeBank. During medical emergencies or when travelling overseas, it’s easy to select and share the relevant records as needed. And if your illness is genetic, LifeBank can prove useful in informing your family of their own risks.
Created an advanced care directive
Many people choose to prepare an advance healthcare directive, or a living will, which is a legal document that sets out how you would like to be cared for if you’re ever unable to communicate your wishes for treatment. Should there ever come a time that someone needs to make decisions about your healthcare for you, an advanced care directive can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.
Take control of your healthcare and history
Knowing that you will always have your medical history at hand can be a comforting thought for many, who might otherwise worry that they’ll forget important details when visiting a new doctor or when asked to provide a detailed medical history.
Accurate information plays a key role in quality healthcare, so keep yours up to date and in secure hands.