Have everything you will need ready prior to any appointment. Make copies of personal information, insurance cards, social security card, prescription card and anything else which has been requested from registration staff. Go over the reason for your doctor’s visit and write out questions you may want to be answered. Be completely honest about your condition.


Have a place where your information is kept. Maintain it in a way so that you and others may easily understand it. Nothing is worse than knowing the information you need is around buy you just can’t locate it. Any writing should be done as legible as possible so that others may be able to read it as well.


Make sure you update your information at least once a year, perhaps your birthday. If there are any changes to your care/treatment, update your files immediately after the appointment or as soon as possible. Remember, emergencies may happen at any time and sometimes as a result of the very change that has been made.


Think of any neighbors, friends or family who may have the opportunity to help you and make sure that they are aware of this choice. Also, make sure that they know where your information is located in case of an emergency situation. Since they will have access to some personal and important information, be sure that you can trust the person/people you will ask for assistance.


Do not be afraid to ask questions. This is your body and health and therefore should be important to you. If you do not understand fully why a certain medicine is being prescribed or why a certain test will be scheduled, ask! Get a business card from each doctor that you see and keep it with your files.

Each person will have varying requirements for their portable medical file. This is a learn as you go system of development. Personalize your file to meet your requirements, but try to keep it as simple as possible. Each person should have their own system; do not combine them as this will cause confusion in emergency situations.


  • A book or magazine. Waiting room magazines may contain contagious elements from other patients.
  • A business card holder for the various doctors, professionals or any frequented medical related business. You may wish to add another for your own personal things such as:
    • Credit card
    • Insurance cards
    • Phonecard
    • Prescription card
    • Some cash, etc.
  • A large, sealable item that can be carried easily that contains all of your information and personal items of interest.
  • A page dedicated to frequent usage names, numbers, and addresses; i.e. primary physician, pharmacy, relatives or other emergency contacts, etc.
  • Personal items such as the following as you may be in the waiting room for some time, so make it as comfortable as you can:
    • Daily medicine box
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Kleenex
    • Mints or gum
    • Snacks
    • Whatever you may like
  • Photocopies of insurance cards, driver’s license, social security card, or any other frequently requested information; i.e. extensive medical history, surgeries, detailed list of prescribed medicines, allergies, etc.
  • A ring binder, or similar, a pad of paper of at least a 100 count of pages. Add a new one when you are ten pages or less to the end. Place it in front of the old one. You may still need the older one for reference.
  • A small monthly calendar to aid with appointment scheduling. Have work schedules accounted for outside caregivers in case you will need a ride to and from the appointment.
  • Writing utensils, a pen, a pencil (preferably a mechanical pencil), and a highlighter type pen. Check them frequently to make sure that they work.