The words “You have breast cancer” aren’t words you ever want to hear. Now there are so many things to concern yourself with and worry about. There are countless office and hospital visits with your oncologist, other physicians, and healthcare professionals, all of whom become part of your healthcare team in this critical stage in your life. The last thing you want to worry about is having to start collecting your breast cancer patient medical records.
Where do you start? It should be straightforward, right?
Putting Yourself in Control Can Seem Hopeless
If you want to get a second opinion, a new treatment, or even information about how to get involved in a clinical trial, you’ll need to show what tests and procedures you’ve had, along with what medications you’ve been on up to this point, since you probably have received care from several providers. This means collecting your breast cancer patient medical records.
However, not all medical record requests are created equal.
When going from specialist to specialist, all your medical records grow, sometimes exponentially. Before you know it, you have what can be a warehouse full of medical information about your breast cancer diagnosis. You can’t cart all these records around with you. Sometimes it seems easier to repeat all those tests and procedures rather than have your latest doctor ask you, “So, why are you here?”
Not All Breast Cancer Patient Medical Records Searches Are Created Equal
You’ve decided to use your breast cancer patient medical records in lieu of repeating all your cancer tests and procedures. Now, it’s down to the business of getting said information. Where do you begin? Let’s start at the source: your hospital and doctors’ offices.
Where are your medical records?
You may not realize that you’re moving headlong into what may prove to be a daunting exercise. You begin at your doctors’ offices, but you might have to pay a fee and deal with a waiting period.
What’s worse is that different hospital systems and doctors’ offices may have various methods for keeping patient records, some as archaic as paper!
Also, doctors’ offices and hospital systems don’t always work with the same electronic systems and are literally unable to share your information.
There’s simply no standard way of getting patients’ records.
As a result, this impacts the waiting time for you to get your records, which in turn, greatly affects the amount of time that it takes to actually receive them. This time could be better spent getting that second opinion, starting a new treatment, or applying for a clinical trial that might best suit your needs.
Multiple ways to get those puzzle pieces
Trying to access your breast cancer patient medical records is arduous at best. But there are ways to get those pieces. BreastCancer.org suggests the following:
- Make a list of all the doctors, offices, and hospitals from which you’ve received treatments. If you don’t recall every one, consider contacting the insurance companies that you’ve used or the one you’re currently using.
- Join various online patient portals offered by hospitals, health systems, medical practices, clinics, pharmacies, and labs. You may not find complete reports, but you can probably get visit notes, lab test results, medications, biopsy reports, imaging reports, and discharge summaries. Some portals also have a feature that allows you to share your records with other providers.
- Consider directly asking for your doctor’s or operative notes. Many providers are happy to give you a printout of your visit or recent procedure, particularly if you contact them before your next visit.
- Contact your provider or ask at your next visit about how you can get copies of your records. Expect to fill out, sign, and submit a form, whether it’s by mail, at your provider’s office, or via fax, email, or online. Many facilities charge for copies, so find out what fees are involved in advance, to avoid surprises.
- Get copies of your imaging tests, like mammograms, ultrasounds, PET scans, CT scans, X-rays, or MRIs. Ask while you’re at your appointment for the films or the images on a CD or flash drive.
- Keep all your records updated each time you have an office visit, procedure, or new medication.
But doesn’t this sound like a great deal of legwork, especially when you’re not feeling particularly well?
Put Control Back into Your Life
With your life being as stressful as it is at this moment, you should have a way to reduce that stress and put control back into your life.
You can now use a free online resource that helps you get more out of your medical records. Ciitizen lets breast cancer patients gain control over their medical information. The service enables you to quickly and easily request your full medical records from all your providers.
Rather than digging through what can be hundreds of PDF files, CDs, or flash drives (or even handwritten notes), your oncologist, new doctors, or other providers can find the information they need to develop your treatment plan. Your scans, blood work results, biopsies, and additional information are all in one place in an electronic format, and they’re also accessible from wherever you or your medical provider are. If you are seeking a second opinion, Ciitizen can take your files and store, organize, and share them with the physician. If you have a telemedicine visit, simply hit the “Share” button, and your provider can view your records automatically. You’re now finally in control.
When it comes to your medical records, learn more about how you can put that control back into your life. Visit us at our Ciitizen website today.