In The Patient’s Playbook, Leslie Michelson describes three practical steps that you can take right now to prepare your family for a lifetime of better health. The worksheets below are designed to give you a head start on this important process. For more detailed information on how to use these documents to better partner with your doctors, see The Patient’s Playbook, Chapter Three: “Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Be Better Prepared.”

I. Create a Family Health History

Step 1 to being prepared for better care is creating a family health history based on the collective memories of your closest relatives. Your physicians need and want this information, as it can often help them get you to a faster diagnosis and treatment. So take the time to be a family medical sleuth: Did any grandparents, aunts, or uncles suffer from serious diseases or unusual medical problems? Are there unsolved health mysteries in your family? At a minimum, plot the medical problems of parents and siblings — the closer the relation, the more significant the information. The attached worksheet will get you started with some pertinent questions to consider. (For details, see The Patient’s Playbook, Chapter Three: "Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Be Better Prepared.")

II. Collect your Medical Records

Step 2 of being prepared involves requesting all of your medical records and preparing them for distribution to your physicians. There are so many possible benefits of having your up-to-date records in one place, including avoiding inaccurate and incomplete diagnostics, harmful drug interactions, and duplicative testing — all things that put you at risk of medical error. If you have numerous doctors to call and feel overwhelmed by the process, just pick up the phone and start somewhere. Remember the old saw: Mile by mile takes a while, yard by yard is not so hard, but inch by inch is a cinch. Here is a helpful worksheet that will get you going. (See The Patient’s Playbook, Chapter Three: "Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Be Better Prepared" for more.)

III. Take Inventory

In a emergency situation, one of the first things a response team will do in the case of an unconscious patient is to check his or her wallet or purse. The emergency medical inventories you create for yourself and your family members may one day speak for you. In my family, we keep paper copies of this inventory at home and the office, and a digital copy on card-sized USB drives that we keep in our wallets. At a minimum, attach your most urgent health information and contact details to the back of your identification card. Having this information on your person will give you peace of mind — and may even become a lifesaver one day. This worksheet will help you create a list. (See The Patient’s Playbook, “Chapter Seven: Emergency Room 101” for tips on how to get the best care possible in an emergency situation.)

Medical Release Form

The HIPAA Release Form allows you to provide information regarding how you want to receive your medical information and allows you to designate who else has access to this information.