Newly Diagnosed

Keeping Your Own Health Records

By Corinna Santa Ana

Medical records

How collecting and keeping your own medical history can benefit you.

Knowing key dates and events in your health history can help you manage your diabetes better. Your health history provides a read on how well your diabetes is being managed and can indicate when changes are needed. Unfortunately, your current healthcare provider might not have easy access to your complete health history. This makes it important for you to keep your own health records.

How can I use my health records?

Knowing when your diabetes was diagnosed will help you know when to add health checks and screens to your healthcare routine. These additional screenings measure things like cholesterol levels and kidney function. The results can provide an early warning of diabetes complications developing.

Having historical records of your medical test results gives you and your healthcare provider an indication of how well your diabetes is being managed and if a change in your care routine is needed. 

Records of how your treatments changed over time and what medications were used can help your healthcare provider decide which medication (or if any medication) and treatments are most appropriate for you. 

Medical records of things not directly related to diabetes, like the pneumonia and flu vaccines, are also useful. They give your healthcare provider an indication of the overall healthcare you’ve received. Other information, like if you have allergies – especially allergies to medications – will help keep you safe.

Why should I keep my own health records?

You might be asking yourself, why do I need to keep track of my health records? Doesn’t my doctor have my medical records?

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that your healthcare provider has easy access to any or all of your health records. 

Every time you change doctors, healthcare systems, or health insurance your health records might not follow you. Also, older healthcare records get archived or destroyed. So even if you stay with the same doctor or healthcare system your complete health history might not be easily accessible.

How will I benefit from keeping my health records?

Having your own health records is beneficial to both you and your healthcare provider. 

For you, it can help ensure that you get the care you need without having to repeat some tests or try treatments again. It can give you an extra measure of safety by recording things that put you at higher risk, like a family history of diabetes, heart disease, or thyroid issues. This can also save you money by avoiding paying for these tests and treatments again or before you need to. 

For your healthcare provider, your health records make it easier for them to make better-informed decisions about your care. They can see the results of your current care routine. If your current care routine is working it makes it easier to have you continue with that. If your current routine isn’t working well, knowing what else you’ve tried helps them avoid repeating treatments you already know don’t work for you. 

What specifically should I keep track of?

You don’t have to keep track of every detail. But, you want to keep track of key events in your overall health history. These are things directly related to diabetes plus more general health information. Over time you’ll decide what’s most relevant to you.

In the meantime, here’s a short list to get you started:


Over time you and your diabetes will go through many changes. Some, like changing your doctor or insurance, will have a clear impact on your diabetes care. Others, like moving or changing jobs, won’t seem as relevant. Keeping your own health records and sharing them with your healthcare provider is something you can do to help ensure that you continue to get the diabetes care you need whenever you go through one of these changes.