How to Create a Medical Binder and What It Should Include

Medical Binders are a useful tool to help you and your family stay on top of their healthcare needs. Preparing a medical binder allows you to keep everything you need to make an informed healthcare decision, in a centralized location. Additionally, being prepared helps you advocate for the healthcare needs of you and your family. 

What You Need To Create Your Medical Binder

Preparing a medical binder doesn’t take a lot of supplies, and what you do need can be found at your local home office store. Some of the supplies you can use to get started are:

  • A heavy-duty 3-ring binder. The size depends on the number of people in your family. However, a minimum of 1.5 inches is recommended. Depending on the current state of health for members of your immediate family, it may be a good idea for each member to have their own binder. 
  • Index tab dividers. The number of dividers depends on a couple of factors (number of family members, sections you want to include, etc.). 
  • Loose-leaf paper
  • Business card pages (optional)
  • 3-hole calendar
  • Sticky notes
  • Plastic folder sleeves and sheet protectors

Useful Sections for Your Medical Binder

After you’ve gathered all your supplies to create your medical binder, you’ll be ready to start organizing everything. Below are some useful recommendations and ideas on how to structure your binder so that it best benefits you and your personal needs.

1.     Basic Information Sheets

Basic information sheets are a quick and easy way to capture important information about yourself and your family members. These sheets are especially handy in the case of an emergency.

Some information to include on your when creating a basic information sheet:

  • Full Name
  • Birthday
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Emergency Contacts. This is a list of people that you would like to be contacted in case of an emergency. Try to maintain an accurate list of local people. This list doesn’t have to be strictly family. It can include anyone you trust in the instance of a medical emergency.
  • Doctors you’ve seen or are currently seeing. This includes the office address, phone number, and fax number. This list can also include preferred hospitals and diagnostic labs. The benefit of this is that it ensures your medical care is performed within the network covered by your insurance. Remaining in-network will save lots of money in the future. 
  • Advanced Directives. Examples include a Living Will or Medical Power of Attorney. A Living Will outlines your decisions on medical interventions if you are incapable of physically making the decision yourself. A Medical Power of Attorney designates someone of your choosing to make medical decisions on your behalf.

Other information you may consider including on a basic information sheet is your social security number and blood type. While keeping this binder in a safe and secure place when it is not in use is recommended, be sure to take extra security measures if you include social security numbers for yourself (or for any of your family members).

2. Appointments

This section of the binder is where the 3-hole calendar comes into play. Utilize the calendar to note when, where, with which medical professional, and why you have an appointment. To ensure you have enough time to make it to the doctor’s office in order to complete paperwork before your appointment, write down an arrival time that’s about 30 minutes before your official appointment is scheduled.

After an appointment, you can also use this section to chronologically store your doctor appointment summaries. If your doctor doesn’t provide you with a summary, write down what happened at the appointment. This includes recommendations the doctor made or treatment plans. When it comes to writing down what the doctor says, use your sticky notes or some loose-leaf paper to write down your notes during these conversations.

It may also be worth checking out your doctor’s website. Oftentimes, medical providers have blank forms on their websites. Printing off a few copies of these forms to have on hand for appointments could save time. You’d also have the luxury to fill them out at your own pace instead of trying to get them done in a hurry before the nurse calls you back. 

3. Test Results

Depending on the current state of your health, this section could include several different things. Some things that are useful to have on hand are: 

  • X-rays 
  • MRIs
  • CAT Scans
  • Recent test results
  • Diagnostic procedure reports

Usually, the images obtained from X-Rays, CAT scans, and MRIs are on CDs. These discs can be placed in plastic folder sleeves or sheet protectors. Don’t forget to include as much information about what’s on the disc as possible.

Things to label CDs with include date, location of imaging, the reason for imaging, the doctor that requested the testing, and any other information you think is important to someone that may need to use your medical binder.

4. Insurance

While there are many instances where a medical provider will already have your insurance information on file, it doesn’t hurt to have copies (or the actual cards) in your medical binder.

5. Articles & Research

Articles and research you’ve done are helpful to have in your medical binder. To advocate for your health, you may choose to do your own research. Another good idea for your research would be to note the date, time, and symptoms that prompted you to begin your own research. Having these organized and ready to give to your doctor can help when creating a treatment plan. 

6. List of Medications

Another piece of information a both you and a medical professional will find useful, is a having a list of current and past medications. Information to include about your medications is: 

  • Generic and Brand Name
  • Dosage
  • How often do you take it
  • The name of the doctor that prescribed it

It may also be helpful to keep a record of the side-effects you experienced while taking any of the listed medications. 

7. Medical History

There are a lot of topics to include in the medical history portion of your medical binder. An important piece of information is any known allergies. You may also want to note the severity of the allergy, along with any other significant details to ensure you (or your loved one) gets the right treatment. 

In addition to detailing allergies, your medical history should also list past and current diagnoses. Other items of useful note include hospitalizations, procedures, and surgeries.

Having all your important healthcare documents in a single location guarantees easy access and preparedness in the event of an emergency, though medical binders are a great resource to have even if there isn’t an emergency.

Ultimately, they can eliminate several stressors when it comes to medical related events. For example, you won’t have to fumble around for your insurance card when checking into the doctor’s office if it is neatly tucked in the insurance section of your binder. Similarly, if a medical professional asks you a question about your current medications, you have a designated tab to go for a quick reference.

Medical binders are a great way to stay organized and remain prepared for any situation. 

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