How To Keep Medical Files Organized - 8 Tips
Oh, Medi-Cal, you inefficient, complicated system, you. It took me a year and a half to just get my address changed to a different county. Each county kept passing me back and forth, stating the other party needed to do XYZ before the file could be transferred. It was maddening— I had made phone calls and emails over this one topic about 3 dozen times, no exaggeration.
It’s also frustrating because months could go by between contact with Medi-Cal (or any insurance company), making hard to remember what was said. Here are some tips on how to keep track of medical correspondence:
Make stacks of documents according to subject. Then you can see what you need to divide up in subcategories or group together into more broad categories.
From David Allen’s Getting Things Done, use a manila folder and label it.
For each folder, keep the contents in chronological order from back to front, adding new documents on top. Printout emails and screenshots to add to the folder to remind you of what happened or was said.
Before making a call to Medi-Cal or your primary insurance company, review your file and make bullet points on what to cover before the call ends. You don’t want to have to make another call through the phone system to get to another live person; it takes confirming your social security number, date of birth, address and phone number all over again. And you’ll probably get transferred a few times in the process.
During call, record the date, the representative(s) name(s), what was stated and the call reference number, if possible.
Keep the call log in written and/or digital form. If there is a lot of information during a call, I much prefer to type it out, because handwritten notes can be sloppy— you’re trying to listen and record it at the same time. If you chose to handwrite, type it in a document. In taking this extra step, you can quickly search for key words or numbers in digital text by using Command + F for Apple users (or Control + F for PC users).
Keep bills when they are paid, write out the details on the actual bill: date paid, paid by check number or last four digits of credit card. If an old bill that has been paid comes up again, you can look it up in chronological order and see that it has been addressed.
If action needs to be taken by you or the other party, add it as an event in your calendar. Again, digital form will give you the convenience of being able to search it by date, key word or type of event.
If and when a folder becomes too full, you can split the contents. The older folder gets a number “1” at the end (instead of “1 of 2”), the newer gets a “2” at the end. Get in the habit of grabbing the higher numbered folder. If needed, a 3rd folder with “3” at the end can be created without having to edit previous folders from “1 of 2” to “1 of 3”
You can use these tips for calls and correspondence with your health insurance company, MediCare and doctor’s office, for easy reference.