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How to Collect Your Medical Information

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Thinking about collecting all your medical information can seem overwhelming and daunting. But don't feel like you have to get all this information right away. It's a big job that you can work on a little at a time. A good way to start is to ask for a copy of your most recent records each time you visit a doctor or medical facility.

After you organize those, you can collect earlier records on a timetable that's right for you. Still, you'll have to be proactive and ask for your records to collect all the information you need.

The American Health Information Management Association, an organization for medical records professionals, has created a step-by-step guide to help people create personal health records.

The first thing to do is to contact all your doctors' offices and treatment facilities and ask for copies of your records. Some offices may keep electronic records that you may be able to access yourself. If not, copies will have to be made for you.

You will have to fill out an authorization form that allows your medical information to be released.

Be aware that most offices and facilities do charge for copies of records. The charge can only include the cost of copy supplies and labor, as well as postage if you would like the records mailed to you. It's a good idea to ask when you'll receive copies of your records -- it can take up to 60 days for the information to arrive.

As you move forward, ask for copies of reports, test results and other newly created records while you're in the doctor's office. By asking for a copy as you and your doctor are discussing the record, it's less likely that you'll be charged for it.

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