Last week I spent about two hours trying to organise all the medical records for my dad. Knock on wood, he has been an exceptionally disciplined person all his life with food, exercise and meditation and so this was more a precautionary exercise than a reaction to an emergency. Going all the way back to the year 2000 it was easy to see the changes in his medical health as he flirted with potential medical conditions and then with concentrated effort out of it. The records reflected his ability to manage his way out of a problem.
The records we managed to pull together were probably a fraction of all the blood work, scans and monitored measure of the behaviour of his heart, lung, brain etc. Paper is easy to lose and honestly, how many of us really file and stack and organise and index all our documents. It struck me as strange that for a world in which almost everything is increasingly digital we still haven’t completely solved our ability to create a digital vault for our medical history. No one would argue with the immense value of being able to go back in time and see the changes in your health.
In the United States, the Obama administration has been pushing for creating an Electronic Health Record or EHR. Doctors and medical institutions publish health records to this centralised database. A very dear friend has been pioneering EHR with a nifty solution called ENKI that allows doctors to schedule appointments and also publish your medical records to a central place that you can then access. Companies like Apple and Microsoft have created apps and online platforms for you to record your health from a host of digital and other devices that monitor your heart rate, sugar, nutrients and exercise etc. This comes with its own complexity of discrimination by Insurance companies but regardless if done in a privacy compliant manner, the benefit of being able to track your medical health over time is invaluable. I know a friend who has converted all his medical records into an excel sheet that he uses to track himself over time.
I dont recommend any particular solution (though if you have a personal preference, please do post for the benefit of others). In the mean time, do consider first organising and then digitising your health records. Create your own Personal Health Record or PHR.