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Seniors blog

Organize Personal Health Information
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | Sarah Dietze

As a professional organizer, I am frequently called on to help folks sort through their papers and develop systems to organize their files.  I find that people have files with extensive information on the care and maintenance of their homes and cars, and no file on the care and maintenance of themselves. As part of their organizing project, I encourage them to develop a file for their medical histories and pertinent medical information.  This comprehensive record will provide a basis for decision-making for themselves, their family and the medical professionals who deliver care to them. 

I am old enough to remember when the family doctor knew your medical history and the medicine you were taking.  He (or she) had often treated your family members, and certainly was aware of your care through his own practice, or his careful coordination with specialists to whom he referred his patients.

Things have changed.  A variety of medications are available over the counter, many people take dietary supplements and access specialty and preventive care without referral. Screenings offered in the community, flu shots offered at pharmacies and grocery stores sometimes do not make it to central medical files.  Care gets further fragmented if hospital care or rehabilitation is required.  That is why individuals now have to take responsibility for having their comprehensive healthcare information as a readily accessible resource. 

My company is a member of the Get Ready Coalition for Emergency Preparedness. When I talk to groups about being ready for emergencies, I suggest they develop a one-page document listing current medications, healthcare provider numbers, prosthetic and implanted appliance data, and other pertinent information for inclusion in their emergency kits.  This is also a great document to have on hand for doctor’s visits and medical emergency situations.

I believe that having your information organized and readily available allows you to make better decisions about your continuing healthcare, avoid duplicate tests and get faster, more effective care in an emergency. 

About Beverly

Beverly Outlaw RN, MBA, FAHM is President of Key Transitions, a Virginia Based Company that provides consultation for organizing home and business. She has extensive experience in planning and organizing in the health care, service and retail sectors and focuses on finding solutions that fit individual personalities, cultures and lifestyles. She was recognized as a Pioneer Nurse by the Virginia Nurses Association for innovations in nursing practice and is certified as a mediator by the Supreme Court of Virginia.  She is a member of the Southwestern Tidewater Task Force on Aging and a past Vice Chair of the Virginia Board of Nursing Home Administrators.  Beverly speaks extensively on the functional, efficient and safe utilization of space, time management, and downsizing strategies, often in tandem with her daughter/business partner, Kristen Hartman CPO, to bring a dynamic multigenerational presentation to the audience.  She can be reached at

Tags   personalhealthrecord, phr, organization

About This Blog

Parents, welcome to the PHR blog where you can connect and communicate with health information management professionals and eventually other parents about managing your child’s healthcare. Have you ever been on your way to the doctor’s office with your child and wondered about the details – diagnosis, medications prescribed, vaccinations, etc. – of your last visit?

As a parent, you have so many responsibilities that it’s difficult to recall everything from day to day let alone last year. A personal health record can help ease your mind. This blog is a social network where you can interact with experts in the field to seek advice and tips for best practices in creating and maintaining your child’s personal health record and the best ways to use that information to play a more active role in their healthcare and simplify your life.

Blog Contributors

Marsha Dolan, Valerie Watzlaf, Cindy Boester, Heidi Shaffer, Julie Wolter, Margaret Hennings, Colleen Goethals, Vera Rulon, Leah Grebner, Robert Caban, Mynilma Olivera-Vazquez, Amanda Bushey, Margie Kelly, Donna DuLong, Sarah Dietze, Valisha McFarlane, Maria Kovell, Ted Eytan, Leann Reynolds, Laura Heuer, Kristin Stewart, Derek Allen, Chris Matthies, Margo Corbett, Craig Newmark, Sarah Buelterman, Skyler Tanner, Aniruddha Malpani, Joan Malling, Marilyn McFarlane, Megan Rooney, Patrick Rhone, Dr. Carrie Nelson, Maria Bouselli, Erin Jordan


PHRs do more than manage medication. Stay up to date with information that can help you communicate with your doctor and stay out of the hospital.

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