So, you have done your research on how to organize medical
Don’t worry, I’ve gotcha covered. Here is a list of the most important things to include in your medical binder and links to free medical binder templates to get you started.
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✅ What Does a Personal Health Record Contain?
The best way to keep track of your health is to create a personal health record (or Medical Binder.) A personal health record should contain all of the medical information, both past
It can also be a lifesaver in an emergency, especially if you are not able to communicate. A loved one or emergency first responders can quickly reference your personal health record.
The following list of things to include in a medical binder is a great starting point. But we each have unique health needs so add or subtract from this list as needed.
✅ Basic Personal Information
I highly recommend this be the first page in your medical binder. A basic info sheet like the one in the picture, is a quick-reference sheet with your most important information. Imagine that you pass out and cannot communicate. What information would you want a first responder, doctor, or loved one to know so that you can get the most effective treatment?
1. Basic Info Sheet
Whether you use a template (like the one you can get in my FREE Emergency Medical Forms) or a sheet of looseleaf paper, make sure you have the following details.
- Full Name
- Phone Number
- Emergency Contacts
- Doctors whose care you are under AND their address, phone number, fax number
- Advanced Directives like Living Will or Medical Power of Attorney
If you have allergies, especially if they are severe and could be life-threatening, have a separate sheet in your binder. You should not only list your allergies, but add any significant details that may be crucial to you receiving the right kind of treatment.
3. List of Doctors and Contact Info
You can either use a sheet of looseleaf paper, a medical template, or a business card binder insert (like this one) to make a list of all the different medical professionals that currently treat you. This should include your primary care doctor, dentist, eye doctor, specialists, and any mental health care providers.
4. Insurance Information
I carry my insurance information in my wallet. But consider in an emergency situation when you don’t have your purse (or wallet) how helpful it is to have your current insurance providers and contact info right in your personal health record (or medical binder.)
✅ Medical Information Needed in an Emergency
5. Emergency Contacts
Who would you like notified in case of an emergency? List those people (it should be more than one) and as many details about how to contact them as possible–that may include emails too.
6. Advanced Directives
According to the American Cancer Society, the different advanced directives are Living Wills and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (also known as a Medical Power of Attorney.) These are legal documents so you need to make sure you consult a legal professional. Laws vary from state to state so you want to make sure these documents would be valid (upheld by the courts) if they ever need to be implemented in the future.
A living will is a legal document that outlines a patient’s decisions on future medical interventions when the patient is no longer able to make these decisions for themselves. It is only used at the end of life when at least 2 doctors agree that you can no longer make the decisions for yourself and that you have a terminal illness or are permanently unconscious.
Medical Power of Attorney
This is another legal document where you choose a person to be your proxy (agent) to make all medical decisions if you are unable to do so. Make sure you choose someone who knows you well and understands your wishes on your future medical care. Unlike Living Wills, a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care does not require that you have a terminal illness. It can be used in situations where you are simply too sick to act on your own behalf.
7. Preferred Doctors, Hospitals, & Diagnostic Labs
Write down which people and/or places you would prefer to go to for treatment. Make sure you consider your insurance coverage and if the doctors, hospitals, and diagnostic labs are in-network or out-of-network. With the more common high deductible plans or restricted HMO plans of today, having this list in your medical binder could save you lots of money.
✅ Snapshot of Current State of Health
Create a one-page quick-reference list of all important information on your present state of health. You do want to have a more detailed description somewhere else in your personal health record, but it is very beneficial to have an At-A-Glance way to communicate your current diagnoses, medications, and symptoms. My Chronic Illness Medical Binder has a template for this page.
8. Present State of Health
This page should be simple yet paint a clear picture of your current health status. Include current diagnoses, medications, doctors, how are treatments working, recent changes to diagnoses or medications, symptoms, and side effects.
9. Current Diagnoses
Create a list of current diagnoses along with the physician that is treating them.
10. Current Medications
You can use a spreadsheet-like template or just a simple list on looseleaf paper. Make sure you include the generic and brand name, the dosage, and how often you take it. Also, list the name of the doctor who prescribes it.
11. Current Symptoms (and Possibly a Symptom Tracker)
Make note of any current symptoms you are experiencing. You can also use a Symptom Tracker Chart that has a record of how you are doing and are current treatments working to alleviate symptoms.
12. Recent Test Results and Reports from Blood Tests, X-Rays, MRIs, & CAT Scans
It’s good to have on hand copies of recent test results and reports of diagnostic procedures like X-Rays, MRIs, and CAT
✅ What to Include in Medical History?
This is where you should take some time and write down everything you remember about past illnesses. Ask family or read any medical records you have to compile a description of each illness. Include any symptoms at the onset of the illness, treatments, and outcome.
I suggest using a sheet of paper for each diagnosis. You can go into as much detail as possible for each diagnosis you currently have or had in the past.
(Want an easy way to create this? Check out my Chronic Illness Medical Binder. It has medical history templates that are easy and comprehensive.)
List all the symptoms you can think of. Ones from the past (going back to childhood if you can to ones you are currently experiencing.) Think of the possible triggers and circumstances when the symptoms began. And include any diagnoses that explained or treated those symptoms.
List each hospitalization occurrence, what is was for, how long were you there, and what outcome. You probably should also note the name and address of the hospital as well as the physicians that treated you.
Procedures that you had that did not require a hospital stay. Were they diagnostic or to fix a health problem. Where did they take place and the doctor you did the procedure. What were the results of each procedure and of course the date it occurred.
On this page, include both outpatient and inpatient surgeries and if they were done at a free standing medical facility or a hospital. Of course log the date, treating physician, and outcome.
19. Medication History
Listing all of your past medications may be a big task (at least if you have chronic illness like me.) I like to use my Walgreens App and it shows all of my past medication. If you can get a hold of any medical records from long ago, they will probably list past medications you were prescribed.
20. Side Effects
When you think about which side effects to log, think back to medication side effects, as well as procedures or surgeries that caused side effects. Also list what kind of side effects allergic reactions have one you now and in the past.
21. Test Results
Always try to get a copy of test results for blood work and such from your doctor. That way you can file them and if you switch doctors, you can easily provide them so they can make copies too.
22. Reports from past MRIs, X-Rays, CAT scans
If you have the actual CD of images, that is a great thing to put in a medical binder. Also add the reports from the radiologist that reviewed your past MRIs, X-Rays, and CAT scans (and any other diagnostic procedure.)
✅ Mental Health Information
23. Mood Tracker
My psychiatrist gave me a mood and symptom tracker for my mental illness (I have Bipolar 1 Disorder.) This is a good thing to have in your medical binder because you can share it with your primary care doctor and other specialists.
My Chronic Illness Medical Binder has different formats of mood tracker templates for you to use. Specifically ones for Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar.
✅ Summaries & Notes for Past Doctors Appointments
Having records of past doctors appointments and what was discussed and what treatment plan was put in place is truly invaluable. The doctors appointment summary printable I created not only is good for planning what questions and concerns you want to address at your appointment, but also for you to look back at in the future. And you can get it FREE with my Medical Binder Starter Pack!
24. Doctor Appointment Summary Printable
You can organize these forms by doctor or chronologically. Whatever you think makes the most sense for you. I highly recommend downloading this template to start using today. If you are at all like me, you get nervous, emotional, and overwhelmed at some doctors appointments. Having all of your questions and concerns written down so you won’t forget is so very helpful. Being able to write down how your doctor responded to your questions and what treatment plan they suggested is also invaluable.
I don’t know about you, but I find my doctor’s feedback and treatment plan can sometimes be “if X, then do Y” but “if Z, then do H” and “if B then call me” LOL!
25. Blank forms for Doctor’s Appointments
Make plenty of copies of these blank forms so you always have a new one when you need it!
✅ Other Essentials
I like to keep ALL of my appointments and schedules in one place (especially to keep track of my family’s schedule too) so I don’t use a calendar in my medical binder. But, it is a good idea if you have a lot of medical appointments or if you just like having them all in one place and you can then add to a main calendar later.
27. Business card binder insert for doctor’s cards
This is really a genius idea to keep all of your doctor’s business cards. You can also keep business cards for labs, physical therapy, hospitals, billing departments and probably many more. (This one is Amazon’s Bestseller)
28. Sheet Protectors
I like to keep most of my medical documents in my personal health record in clear sheet protectors. I find it helps keep them in better condition since I am flipping back and forth through my medical binder multiple times. If you don’t want to use plastic protective sleeves, you can use those packs of sticky hole reinforcers like these.
29. Section Dividers (with or without) Tabs
This is great for separating the different categories in your medical binder. It makes it easy and quick to turn to each section. However, if you a lot of the sheet protectors as I do, the tabs don’t stand out as much.
30. Dividers with Pockets
When I was out shopping for school supplies this year, I saw that a lot of dividers now come with pockets or sleeves. I actually had to dig to find the simple ones with the small rectangle plastic tabs. But I do like the sturdier dividers and the ones with pockets usually are quite sturdy.
31. CD Holder Binder Insert
Like I mentioned above, if you can get copies of the CD with your images from your MRIs and X-Rays, you can easily store them in these binder inserts. Choose a thick plastic since CDs are thicker than pieces of paper and have some weight to them. I also recommend you put this page as the last one in your medical binder.
32. Looseleaf Paper
I love me some looseleaf paper! I know this sounds crazy, but I have fond memories of taking notes and I love the feel of writing on college-ruled paper. Nerdy, I know! And with the digital age we live in, there is hardly ever an opportunity for me to use looseleaf paper.
But if you are wanting to make a cheap, quick, and simple medical binder, you can use looseleaf paper to write down all of the medical information for your personal health record.
Ready to Get Started? Medical Binder Starter Pack