This is, of course, a relatively common scenario: aging adult moves — or is moved by family — to a new place to live.
Seamless transition to new medical providers ensues. As does optimal management of chronic health issues. Not.
Naturally, my friend is anxious to ensure that his father gets properly set up with medical care here. His dad doesn’t have dementia, but does have significant heart problems.
My friend also knows that the older a person gets, the more likely that he or she will benefit from the geriatrics approach and knowledge base. So he’s asked me to do a consultation on his father. For instance, he wants to make sure the medications are all ok for a man of his father’s age and condition.
Last but not least, my friend knows that healthcare is often flawed and imperfect. So he sees this transition as an opportunity to have his father’s health — and medical management plan — reviewed and refreshed.
This last request is not strictly speaking a geriatrics issue. This is just a smart proactive patient technique: to periodically reassess an overall medical care plan, and consider getting the input of new doctors while you do this. (Your usual doctors may or may not be able to rethink what they’ve been doing.) But of course, if you are a 93 year old patient — or the proxy for an older adult — it’s sensible to see if a geriatrician can offer you this review.
Hence my friend’s situation illustrates two common core healthcare needs that families of older adults often have:
To successfully manage a transition to a new team of medical providers.
To obtain a second opinion regarding a person’s health, chronic conditions, and the medical management plan. (For more on how this approach can can help patient assess the quality of their outpatient care, see this post.)
To address both of these needs, older adults and family caregivers need a good personal health record (PHR).
So, I find myself — yet again — on the hunt for a good PHR system to recommend to families.
As some might recall, I blogged about PHRs back in January. (See this post.)
And now the time has come for me to take another look at what’s out there for PHRs. Let’s see what people can recommend for these two family caregiver use cases.
- Obtain this information, much of which is currently in the hands of prior providers,
- Organize it and keep it in a way that will facilitate care in the future,
- Keep adding medical information to their repository in the future, in part because Dr. Kernisan has insisted that this will pay off for future healthcare needs.
I’m a caregiver to my mother in that I go with her to all her doctor visits & keep a notebook (4 inches) that has all her doctors’ notes (5 in all), hospital visits/ER visits & tests. The notebook grew from a smaller one to the 4-inch one because during her last hospital visit, the doctors were asking me questions that I didn’t know the answers to & didn’t have that specific doctor’s records to help them. Believe me, I got on that right away while she was still in the hospital & it stayed with her at the hospital until she came home.
I also keep an updated list of her medications with allergies listed as well as a 3-page typed-out present, past medical, past surgical, family & social history.
There is a notebook-sized business card holder for her appointment cards.
My problem is now that that 4-inch notebook is becoming heavy to carry, but as sure as I put all the different dividers into individual notebooks & take that particular notebook with us to that particular doctor, he’ll want to know what one of the other doctors said or what the most recent tests showed & I won’t have that information. Is there something out there like a PDA or something where I scan the paper copies onto our home computer, then put the scanned copies on the device as well as a calendar in order to keep her appointments?
Like the idea above about putting a “please return to…” sign on the notebook; never thought about it getting lost.
Thanks for your help.
- Convert her existing paper resources into a digital format,
- Easily share content from the PHR with her mother’s various doctors,
- Keep adding information to the PHR as her mother continues to see various providers.