Lessons Learned

Dear Janie,

When I was 12 years old, I was part of the cross country team at my middle school and played tennis recreationally. I always had a difficult time because of having trouble breathing in spite of running an average of 3 miles a day. When I went to college in 2005, I was still having trouble with my breathing during exercise and I was given an inhaler by health services.  In 2015 to early 2016 I inquired about joining the US military. As part of the preliminary application, all my medical records needed to be obtained and reviewed by military medical personnel. Despite providing a recent pulmonary function test (used to diagnose asthma or other lung problems) that cleared me of asthma and obtaining a note from my current primary care physician (PCP), the original documentation of childhood asthma from my pediatrician was requested. To my surprise, my record from the pediatrician’s office was not obtainable. I found out that pediatric records are must only be kept for seven years after a patient’s 21st birthday. And, my pediatrician had also since passed away. His practice had been closed and the paper records had been destroyed. Trying to hunt down my past medical records took hours of my time. I see this now as a blessing in disguise. Going forward, I know how important it will be to collect information for my future children, so they won’t have to go through the maze of obtaining their health records later in life, as I did. What should I be doing differently so this won’t happen again for me, or someday to my kids?

Signed,

Lessons Learned

Dear Lessons Learned,

This story is a great example of learning from the past to improve the future. Going forward, I can tell you will be diligent about obtaining your medical records in digital format and storing them for future reference in your PHR. It’s great you plan to teach this practice to your children. It will become the norm for them to keep their own health record up to date. It’s a behavior that will save them time in the future and could even save their life! Thanks for sharing your prior experience. It helps us all see why we should feel motivated to learn the technical skills necessary to taking advantage of new PHR technology. By getting started with a PHR today, you will learn and integrate these new skills into the way you manage your own health information. In turn, you’ll teach those skills to your kids and they will learn them naturally just by observing what you do. There’s a great quote that says, “Be the change in the world you want to see!” By collecting their records for them while they are little and by being a PHR role-model, you’ll be doing all you can to help your children benefit from the lesson you learned the hard way.

Be well,

Janie