For people who have chronic illnesses, traveling with their health records is now easier than ever. Having that information readily available, and translated into the language of the country or countries on a traveler’s itinerary, can allow medical personnel to provide better care. Personal medical information could be a lifesaver if a traveler requires emergency medical care or medical transportation services.
Travelers who should consider traveling with their personal health records include:
People who have chronic illnesses or conditions. People who have chronic conditions such as diabetes or cardiac disease, or who have been treated for illnesses such as cancer, should consider taking records that document these conditions and their treatment. Any history of serious allergic reactions to medications, insect bites or foods should also be noted.
Anyone who is traveling for medical tourism. The medical facility where a traveler is having a procedure performed should have a copy of his or her medical history. However, it’s smart to bring a back-up copy.
Students or expatriates who plan to live outside the United States for more than a few months. Traveling with medical records helps ensure greater continuity of care. Also, travelers who become injured or are in an accident may not be able to provide doctors or emergency responders with their health history. And they shouldn’t count on getting records from home electronically. Time zone or language differences could lead to delays in sending such information.
Creating a Personal Health History
There are several convenient ways for travelers to collect and store information about their health history. These include USB drives, Cloud drives and smartphone applications.
If a traveler isn’t sure where to begin, a good option may be one of several subscription-based services that allow individuals to fill out and create a personal health history online. Travelers who don’t want to pay a service fee can create their own portable history using guides from the University of Minnesota and the American Health Information Management Association. At a minimum, personal health information should include the name and contact information of the traveler’s regular physician, a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medicines taken regularly, any known allergies, and any treatment plans for chronic conditions.
Another tool for preparing a portable health record is TrEHRT. TrEHRT is a free solution that was created by researchers to encourage travelers to collect and travel with their health records. Travelers can use it to store records in a computer or smartphone for easy access. Microsoft’s Healthvault is another free online service for managing health records.
Travelers also can work with their doctors to save their pertinent information on a USB drive or other small, portable device. However, health providers may charge for this information. These devices can also be good for carrying large-file test results and similar records.
Of course, travelers should entrust at least one companion or friend in the country they are visiting with details on how to access their records. Such assistance could be invaluable in an emergency.
Arranging Medical Transportation Services
In addition to bringing along their health records, people traveling outside the United States or over long distances should take a few minutes to research medical transportation services, and save contact information for them in an easily accessible place.
One of the country’s top medical transportation services is SentinelMED. SentinelMED provides medical transportation, medical repatriation, and medical escort services that help patients and their caregivers navigate the complexities of long-distance travel. SentinelMED works to ensure that people who are ill or injured can travel long distances in comfort and safety. In many cases, patients travel on commercial airlines with a SentinelMED escort who is an ICU- or emergency-medicine professional. This service is a cost-effective alternative to an air ambulance.
The SentinelMED team understands the complexity of delivering exceptional care to patients who need assistance during travel. Please contact us to learn more about the services that SentinelMED offers or its staff.