Most of us will require some form of medical intervention (assistance or treatment) at various times during our lives. Some of us will require medical intervention more frequently than others.

We will require that intervention to treat injuries, diseases, infections and any number of health-related conditions that may arise over time, whether genetic or not.

The interventions may consist of surgeries, medications, therapies, lifestyle changes and various forms of counselling, among other things. They may be preventive (inoculations) or they may be reactive (prostheses). They may be handled by a broad variety of practitioners, such as paramedics, physicians, nurses, therapists and the like.

In almost every case, a medical practitioner attending to you will need information about you - about your medical history and your family's medical history - in order to plan an effective intervention and one that will not compromise any existing condition you may have or medication you are taking. They will ask you a lot of questions and if you are capable, ask you to complete a number of forms, all so that they have as much information as possible as input to any decisions they may have to make.

One of the best things you can do to help yourself when confronted with the need for a medical intervention is to have as much information related to your health as you possibly can on hand. That information should be thorough, accurate, organized and available.

Here are some thoughts on what types of information you should keep, why you should keep it, how you can do it and what you should do with it to make it available.

What should I keep track of?

There are several types of information you should keep a record of. They are information about:

1. Your doctors and the medical facilities you use
Keep records of the names and addresses of all the practitioners who have ever treated you and the facilities (hospitals and clinics) you have been to and where medical records may be kept.

2. Past and scheduled visits with health professionals
Keep a record of all visits to your doctors and to medical facilities – when you visited, when your next visit is scheduled, what you discussed, what you want to discuss, questions you have, what was decided, the outcomes, and so on.

3. Medications and supplements
Keep track of every medicine and supplement you take or have ever taken: keep a record of its common name, its technical name, the prescribing physician, the dosage and the date you started and/or stopped taking it.

4. Past, present, emerging and potential medical conditions
Keep track of phobias, allergies, conditions, childhood diseases, accidents and any potential hereditary conditions such as cancers and heart conditions incurred by members of your immediate family.

5. Surgeries, exams, tests and other medical procedures
Keep records of tests and procedures you have had – ultrasounds, colonoscopies, surgeries, biopsies, etc. – the dates, referring physicians and results if available

6. Symptoms, patterns and feelings
Symptoms and patterns can sometimes be measured and sometimes not, but you should try to keep records of such things as hours of sleep, discomfort, bowel movements, dreams, moods, things you ingest such as food and drink or anything relevant to a medical issue.

7. Important health measures
Obtain and keep records of the results of tests you have undergone and the results of blood work (i.e. HDL and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides). Keep track of your pulse, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, body mass index, and the like on a regular basis.
You should also track physical activities such as miles run or pedaled, laps swam, hours of exercise and so on – anything you can measure that is related to your health.

The first 5 types are static in nature – that is, the data does not change once captured and does not require much time or effort to keep it current

The last 2 categories are more dynamic – that is, the information changes frequently, depending on what you are keeping track of. This type is referred to as time-series data because there are many records of the same measure taken at different points in time – hourly, daily, monthly, annually or whenever. This data is repetitious so you can often use it to generate charts that allow you and your doctor to see trends and correlations to other data.

Why bother?

The next question you may ask is why you should bother to keep these kinds of records. The answer should be obvious but here are several really important reasons:

1. Because we may find ourselves in emergency situations
Take a copy of all of this data with you whenever you are traveling. Well organized medical records could be life-saving should you find yourself in a foreign hospital or having to see a physician as the result of an accident or illness while away from home.
Ensure that someone close to you knows where the information is should you find yourself in an emergency situation close to home so that they can get the information to the right people in the event that you can't.

2. Because it is useful in everyday situations
Bring all of the information with you to every appointment that you have with a medical practitioner. When asked about medication or supplements you are taking, for information about past conditions or family history, or for past procedures and surgeries, hand the relevant report over, or use them to help you fill in any required forms.

3. Because we sometimes forget things
Our memory is not always as good as we sometimes think it is. We tend to forget a lot of things over time. What medications we have taken in the past, what tests and procedures we have undergone, what allergies we have, and so on. Having it recorded and available may just help in ensuring that a critical piece of information is made available at the right time.

4. Because we can
Computers provide us with new opportunities for formally managing information in ways that were never before possible. We should realize that computers provide us with a much easier way to pass on information to others and we should take advantage of those opportunities. Computers also allow us to more easily generate charts and graphs and keep them up to date.

5. Because we can use the data ourselves
You can use the time-series information to help you better manage your health on your own – your doctor does not always have to be involved. There is a saying that suggests one can better manage something if one can measure it. Review the data and look for trends, patterns and correlations. Set targets and goals, then measure and manage your way toward them. When you see a trend that you do not like, do something about it – it may be a warning. Change your diet, exercise pattern or whatever. Quite often, this is enough to bring the measure back to where it should be. Bring the charts when visiting your doctors so you can discuss the implications of a specific measure or a trend in a measure, as there may be a need for medication or other options to help bring the measure back into line

How can I do all this?

Use a computer application if possible because you will find that there is a lot of data to track, even if you are in good health. You can use paper, note pads and graphing paper, but a computer system makes it much easier. One which is tailored to this type of information is called ‘the Recordskeeper’. It can store all the information you will ever need. It is relatively easy to use and will provide you with all the reports and charts you need. You can use the same program for a lot of other things also, like your home inventory and keeping track of any other type of personal information. You can learn more about the RecordsKeeper by visiting

What do I do with the information?

If you use a computer database like the Recordskeeper to help you keep track of all this kind of information, it will only be of use if it made available to your medical practitioners when they need it. To this end, there are several steps you can take to ensure it will be available.

The first is the most simple one. Print out any reports that may be relevant and take them with you whenever you visit your doctor or a medical practitioner. Use the reports when you are discussing situations with your doctor. Using them to help you answer questions will ensure you do not forget anything and may help you to identify pieces of information that are missing.

Save a copy of the reports on a flash drive (a small cheap storage device that can fit on a key chain) and keep the drive in your automobile or on your person so that you always have it if you need it in an emergency.

Give a copy of the reports in a sealed envelope (or on a password protected flash drive) to a family member, relative or good friend and ask them to make the reports available to a doctor in the event that you are incapacitated and are incapable of doing so yourself.

Keep information about where the reports are and how they can be obtained on a small card in your wallet or purse at all times.

Do not forget to print out, save and distribute updated reports periodically or after you have made some important changes to the data.


Doctors need information about you in order to make the best decisions when they are considering treatment options. Your best interests will be served if they get the information they need when they need it. To ensure that happens, you need to ensure that you have information about your health that is thorough, accurate, organized and available.

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones. In summary then, you should strive to be more formal when it comes to managing your personal health information so that you are prepared for any situation, emergency or otherwise.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Robinson is a computer professional and consultant in the data management profession with over 30 years experience in data processing.

As the founder of RecordsKeeper Software, Bob’s passion is to provide ideas and software that helps people get control of their lives, to function better and to improve the ability to manage their affairs by having well organized information about everything that is of importance to them.

Presently, Bob is writing articles and building his business.

You can reach Bob at or visit the RecordsKeeper website at