Keeping a Health Journal

As you or your loved one begins to require increased attention to health issues, keeping an up-to-date medical journal can come in handy.

Having quick access to this information is not only useful to you on a day-to-day basis, but to health care providers as well — especially in a time of emergency.

Keeping the journal is something you and a love one can do together. In a notebook, create sections to include the following:

Health Insurance Information

In nearly every circumstance when medical care is received, patients must provide health insurance information. Having your loved one’s health plan name and policy number readily available can help facilitate quicker access to care.

Doctor/Hospital Contact Information

You never know when you’ll need to unexpectedly contact a doctor or emergency medical facility. On one page of the journal, write down the names and phone numbers of the doctors and specialists your loved one sees regularly.

Prescription Medications

Doctors should always be aware of any medications a patient is taking — to prevent “over-prescribing” or harmful drug interactions. Your health journal should include a list of the medications your loved one is taking and the condition(s) they treat.


There’s a reason why health care providers always ask if patients have any allergies: it can impact the course of treatment provided. Make a list of any allergies your loved one may have, along with the symptoms and current treatment (if applicable).

Major Illnesses or Surgeries

Devote a page of your journal to listing any major illnesses your loved one has had in the past. Ex­amples include pneumonia, cancer and heart dis­ease. Also make note of past operations, such as heart surgery, hysterectomy, gall bladder removal, appendectomy, etc.

Emergency Contact Information

Finally, be sure to list the names and phone num­bers of family members and/or friends who should be notified in the event of a medical emergency.

Once the journal is complete, make sure that you and your loved one keep it up to date, making any necessary changes or additions every time medical care is received.


Editor’s Note:This article was submitted by KayT Matheson. KayT is a Division Director of Marketing & Operations with Genesis HealthCare and may be reached at 208-859-5117 or by e-mail at