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Natural Awakenings North Central New Jersey

Organizing For Health Care: Coordinating Your Plan of Attack For Chronic Or Crisis Care Issues

Jun 04, 2024 08:34AM ● By Sherry Onweller

Facing a new health challenge can be overwhelming, whether it is being delt with by a family member or for oneself. Being methodical and organized about a plan of attack as well as keeping all of the information organized can be empowering and give a sense of being more in control of the situation.

Having worked with hundreds of clients over the past 20 years, many with chronic or newly identified health issues needing to be addressed, the following methodology has proven to be very effective in helping them to get their arms around a new health challenge and to navigate it going forward. This can be done on a computer (using Excel or Word) or in a binder with tabs, whichever is preferred by the user.

First Step: Create an Organizational Binder

This binder will support the full picture of the health issue and keep all of the information organized with the most relevant details readily available. This is especially useful to help bring each new doctor on the care team up to speed.

Document Visits for Sharing

Before meeting with any new medical professional, make copies of any relevant prior visit notes and test results, and print a copy of the list of all previous doctors seen as well as their contact information.

As mentioned above, it is important to keep a running list of all of the doctors who have been seen and their contact information in a word or Excel file or on notebook paper, that can go in the front of your binder, under a “Medical Professionals Seen” tab. For each doctor, list their name, address, phone #, type of doctor, general issues they have been seen for and on what date(s), and any ongoing medicines / treatments and the dates these were taken / tried and any next steps that they recommend.

This will be a good reference to give to new doctors that are subsequently seen. It is also helpful to have a spot on your listing of doctors for elaborating on the details of any medicines taken / things tried with that particular healthcare professional.

Bring Your Questions With You

Before each visit, take time to create a concise bullet point style list of questions to be asked, leaving room on the printed list for the answers to each question.

Tabbed Sections are Key

Be sure to have multiple tabs in the binder. Have one tab be titled test results and place each of the relevant test results here, either with holes punched or in sheet protectors. Have one tab per doctor and have copies of the visit summaries in reverse chronological order in the tabs by doctor. Typically these summaries can be printed from the doctor’s online portal shortly after each visit, otherwise call the office and request these be mailed. Include a tabbed section for articles to read, and a tab for ideas of other doctors to see in the future or for second opinions, etc.

Organizing is the One Thing You Can Control

In a situation that may seem beyond all security, solid organizing may provide an anchor in this rocky sea. Processing all of the information relating to a health condition can be tricky, but being organized with appointment preparation, as far as deciding in advance what information is being brought to each appointment, as well as post appointment notes and debriefing can be empowering and give a sense of control.

Bring Support to Appointments

Some clients find it helpful to bring someone like myself, a family member or friend to their appointments to be there to help take notes and ask questions. This can either be in person or on speaker phone (with the doctor’s approval).

It is important to go into each doctor appointment with clearly defined goals, objectives, and questions. It helps to have these written down. It is useful to debrief with yourself after each appointment and take the time to jot down a few summary notes and any next steps to be taken. It is easy to forget and have all of the appointments morph into one. If you find that you have left the appointment with some unanswered questions, it is a good strategy to send the doctor or nurse a message using their internal messaging system.

Having a new health situation can be very overwhelming and stressful, but taking the time to have a plan and have organized information can give a sense of calm and comfort, and is a very worthwhile investment of time.

Sherry Onweller, owner of Everyday Organizing Solutions by Sherry LLC, is a professional problem solver, organizer and life strategy coach. She offers a free 30-minute consultation for new clients. For information on her services, email [email protected] , call 908-619-4561 or visit See ad, page 11.

5 Top Tips to Finding Your Next Doctor

1 Keep an Open Mind! Healthcare has come a long way. Today, you have access to practitioners that branch outside of traditional medicine and aim to identify the root causes of conditions while using alternative treatments that may help you get the relief you need. Just because it’s not a pill, doesn’t make it pseudoscience.

2 Build Your Health Care Team. There is no one doctor that can be the be-all-end-all for your health needs. Be sure to have a team of practitioners with different “lenses” and areas of expertise who will treat the root cause and not just the symptom(s).

3   Environment Influences Healing. Health is multi-factorial. Your mental and emotional environment plays a pivotal role in your healing potential. Your doctors and their staff should create an office atmosphere filled with positivity so you can get the most out of your care.

4 Your Story Matters.  Before you begin any treatment, be sure to have a comprehensive consultation to discuss your health concerns. Find practitioners who welcome questions and will take the time to listen and treat you with respect.

5 Report of Findings. When it comes to our health, we often make decisions without understanding the risk versus benefits. Knowledge is an important part of the healing process and is essential to make conscious, informed health decisions. Find practitioners who take the time to explain their exam findings and the recommendations for treatment in ways that make sense to you.

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