medicalrecordsWhile many of us are content to leave our medical records in the hands of our doctors, some patient advocates advise otherwise, saying that this gives doctors too much power over vital information and prevents you from using the information to your own benefit.

Serving as your own data warehouse can make it easier to seek a second opinion or shop for less expensive medical treatment. It can also help you avoid a medical error that may occur when a doctor lacks the information they need.

By All Means, Think Before You Act

Even though many incentive-driven providers are supporting the move to electronic medical records, not everyone agrees that caring for your own medical information is wise. Confusion and worry are valid concerns and of course, your current medical condition must be considered. When people are too sick, too busy or too nervous to monitor their health condition, taking charge of the information is seldom in the patient’s best interests.

From the Medicare Blue Button® to fitness tracking devices, there are many ways to obtain certain medical information. Regardless of how you obtain or organize your health data, experts agree that the most important step is protecting it. Data loaded into a personal health record or other commercial application is no longer protected by HIPAA and some fitness-related apps are free because they make data available to marketers.

While there are many good reasons to take control of personal medical records and many new ways to organize and share the data as needed, it is a step that should not be taken lightly or without appropriate care and communication. Talking to doctors and other health care providers and most important, loved ones, is the all-important first step.