Last updated 1 August 2016

Portable Medical Records: An Expat Need

With so many new things on our mind when living in a new country, it is normal that we forget some elements of our past interactions with our doctors or specialists in our hometown or our previous assignment location. But health data that constitutes medical records is crucial to diagnostics, follow-ups, and good treatment choice. We explore how to manage and carry your health data with you on your assignment overseas and what are the options:

Why is it important?

In cases of emergencies or even when you start a new record with a new physician in your new country of residence, you would need even just the basics of your medical record.  Whether you are living by yourself, or with your family, this is important. Aviva published a recent study that surveyed British nationals abroad regarding their health and medical records, and the study shows that 69% of their respondents, don’t know their blood pressure, 50% either don’t know or have not updated with tetanus/diphtheria vaccinations, 63% are not aware of their blood group, 35% struggled to remember their medical history and 18% of female respondents don’t know when they’ve had their last smear test. This is a very alarming report on the state of knowledge of expats about their own health abroad.

Your insurance might ask for it

Some of your International Private Medical Insurance companies can ask to access medical records when they need more detailed medical information to treat a claim. Some policies would have to check for pre-existing conditions, previous tests, and other forms of records.


Your good treatment might depend on it

Having your medical records on hand is vital for people with chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease and Diabetes. PicnicHealth’s co-founder, Noga Leviner had her idea for the app after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease herself and found that maintaining an organized medical record can be quite challenging, but your medical treatment, especially when you’re not in your home country, greatly depends on it.


Vital in an emergency

There are numerous benefits in having your medical records available whenever you need it, but most people still fail to understand that clear medical records are vital in an emergency. When you’re in a medical emergency, an accurate medical record will allow healthcare providers to provide a proper diagnosis, communicate and coordinate with your physicians, and minimize medical errors. By avoiding errors and misdiagnosis, you can save thousands of dollars every year in medical treatment.

DIY portable medical records

Now that we’ve highlighted the importance of portable medical records, it’s about time you prepare yours. There are simple ways to get your medical records. The most common way is to ask your GP or clinic back home to print your records before you leave the country or when you go back to visit if you haven’t done this yet. You should remind yourself to do this every time you move from one country so you will have a fully updated medical record no matter where you are in the world. Your portable medical record can start with paper.

Your insurance company might provide a solution

International health insurance companies such as Aviva International and IntegraGlobal are offering a solution for your portable medical records. Ask your health insurance provider for medical records solutions.

For more about Aviva and Medelinked, see info below


Access providers of portable medical records

According to a recent Digital Health Consumer Adoption survey, a consumer will be willing to pay an average of $12.69 to gain access to their electronic medical records.

There are several apps and online tools that offer electronic assistance for handling your medical records. Some will offer service such as online health timelines while some offer simpler hardware to store your data and carry with you.


Here is a list of private companies offering the service:

Zaptag – Zaptag offers an online health record and information service that allows you to build your own medical health profile online that can be easily accessed by your healthcare provider, and your health insurance company.

Medelinked – Like Zaptag, Medelinked is an online health platform that allows you to build and share your medical records. Medelinked has partnerships with healthcare providers, health insurance companies, and various other health maintenance software such as Samsung S Health, Aviva, IntegraGlobal, Medichecks, etc. that builds a complete set of health assistance for you no matter where you are in the world.

PicnicHealth – PicnicHealth gives you a clear health timeline and handles all of your medical records from all your doctors for you through their online tools. Instead of asking you to gather your records and compile it on your profile, PicnicHealth offers to get your records for you through e-signed authorizations and a list of your doctors. All you need to do is make a list and check your records when it’s ready.

Microsoft HealthVault – Microsoft HealthVault not only allows you to store and compile your own medical records, it also allows you to organize and store your entire family’s records through their online system. HealthVault also allows you to access your records on all mobile devices and computers.

iBlueButton – iBlueButton is also an online tool and app for medical records that allows you to build, access, and update your medical records anywhere. This app also allows you to share your records with your doctors or health insurance providers through its easy share function.

Allscripts  – Allscripts offers more than just storing your medical records, it has services such as electronic prescribing, patient referral management, homecare management, and care management, all of which are more tools and services to take care of you and your family’s healthcare needs while living abroad.

The Patient Portal, from Cerner Corp. – Cerner’s Patient Portal allows you to create, update and send your medical records. Their patient portal tool also allows you to make appointments with healthcare providers and send your lab results and other medical records to your doctors.

Centricity Patient Online, from GE Healthcare – GE Healthcare’s Centricity Patient Online tool allows you to sync your profiles directly with your healthcare providers’ systems and also allows you to easily share your medical information with your health insurance providers when you make claims.


Learn More: Get International Health Insurance that fits your lifestyle abroad

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