medical record

The Empowered Mocha Patient is all about fostering a lifestyle of involvement in your own health care, successful disease management & prevention of disease by taking proactive measures. Therefore, this week, I want to share some tips on the importance of a complete medical record and how you can organize your own.

Before moving into to this weeks tips, let’s first address one of the overwhelming concerns in the mocha patient community, lack of trust in health care providers. The majority of us are keenly aware of the Tuskegee experiment. As a result, mocha patients are leery of sharing their complete medical history with a healthcare provider. However, not only is it important that you do this, it is critical to your likelihood of recovery and successful healthcare management. A Washington Post article from 1997 accurately captures how doing so benefits YOU, the mocha patient.

“Blacks’ lack of trust of the health system manifests in many ways, said Reed V. Tuckson, president of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles and former District of Columbia health commissioner. It begins with the willingness of patients to be honest and forthcoming with their medical history, and “in knowing your best interests will be protected and that the health professional is interested and sensitive to your concerns.” ¹

Despite the best attempts of providers to communicate well with each other, one of the key things to remember about healthcare is that it is still rather fragmented. This is why it is crucial for the patient or their family/advocate to have good records of their medical history, and have this information readily available wherever you go. A personal medical record can be stored in a folder, notebook or for the more tech savvy, there are free websites available, such as Big Blue Button

As you begin to organize your own personal medical record, be sure to should include:

  1. Information about serious medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. This also should include family history of disease.
  2. Vaccines received
  3. Current medications being taken
  4. Known reactions to medications
  5. Allergies

Finally, after you have documented your medical history, be sure to review and update it regularly. Take it along with you for every health care encounter. Discuss your medical history with your provider and be forthcoming about all of your medical history. This can include substance use and abuse, communicable diseases, etc. An Empowered Mocha Patient deserves to be treated holistically, that means your mind, body & spirit. In order for this to occur, you must be completely honest about all of your medical history. It is the responsibility of the provider to accurately assess a patient’s condition, based on the information provided, without judging or criticizing the patient. When you take the time to keep track of your own medical history, you are being an empowered and engaged patient. You are more prepared to ask questions and more likely to be involved in the healthcare decision-making process. Please watch this short presentation for more information and the benefits of creating and maintaining your own personal medical record. ²


  1. Shelton, D. L. (1997, April 15). Mistrust of Doctors Lingers After Tuskegee; Many Blacks Remain Wary — And Underserved — a Quarter-Century After Infamous Syphilis Study. Washington Post. Retrieved from:
  2. Creating a Personal Medical Record. Video. March 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

 Next week: Building a Better Relationship With Your Provider