Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping Track of MORE Mountains of Paperwork

I wrote about keeping track of mountains of paperwork in May, 2008.  (That’s still a very good post, and I highly recommend reading it & taking action.)  Here’s the short version:

j0422184When you start your journey down the road of living with autism, you have no idea how many people, places, prescriptions/recommendations, and ideas you’re going to cover in the coming years.  By the time you realize you can’t keep track of everything, it will be VERY DIFFICULT to go back in time & recreate your records.  Better to start keeping track right away, using a digital format that’s easily search-able.

Today I’d even recommend using a digital journal to keep track of your medical history for everyone in the family, autism or not.

What I’ve done.

I’ve been keeping an online journal since 5/08 – our past year-and-a-half is time stamped, labeled, tagged, and easily searchable, all in a password-protected non-indexed blog.  This makes it easier to flip through & find things, but I think I can do better.  I have 3 forces pushing me to make a change this year:

1. My online journal gives more freedom & flexibility to words – describing the appointment, what was discussed, etc.  But I’m finding this is the minority of the information I need to keep – dates, who, and what are the primary records.

2. Once I have the framework for keeping track of these things, I should be keeping track for everybody; why not have a “family” medical journal rather than just a “Calvin” journal?

3. We scheduled an appointment for Calvin to see a specialist, and the pre-application paperwork asked for information in such detail we weren’t able to complete it accurately.  I need to go back through the old files and make notes; might as well use this opportunity to bring them online.

My next format.

Good ole Microsoft Excel.  I’ve built a spreadsheet with the following column headers:

* Date – inupt the date

* Family Member – who had the appointment?

* Appointment With – who did we meet?

* Reason for Appt – why did we meet?

* Tags – key words, easily searchable, to describe this entry.  using the same key words when possible makes searching easier.

* Notes – memo field to discuss details, Rx, therapy changes, iep notes, etc.

My goal for 2010 will be to pull all the old data into this spreadsheet.  Once it’s in there, I’ll be able to filter by family member or doctor, sort by date, search for anything, whatever I need.  Wish me luck!

ps – I can’t stress enough how important it is to BACKUP YOUR DATA!  You don’t want to put a lot of effort into this, and then lose it all one day when your computer stops working…