Monday, January 16, 2012

Do you keep your investigation reports electronically?

When you're on dialysis, within a few months, you could build up a mountain full of investigation reports. Referring back to check how much your hemoglobin was a few months back could be an impossible task. So, here's a handy tip: start recording your investigation values on your computer!

Since you're reading this, you obviously use a computer. So, make better use of your computer. Record all your investigations on it. You could either use Excel or even better - a Google Doc spreadsheet so that you can access it from anywhere. There was a tool called Google Health which was discontinued on January 1 this year. There are other similar tools like Microsoft Health Vault and so on but I am not really sure how they are. Excel or a Google Spreadsheet are good enough for my needs. So, I will stick to that.

The next question is how do we maintain the vast range of blood tests that we usually get done?

I put the dates in the rows and the test names in the columns. But with the large number of tests, the sheet could become unreadable. So, I split the tests into the groups that are usually used - Complete Blood Picture (which includes things like Hemoglobin, RBC, WBC, platelets etc.), Biochemistry (Urea, Creatinine, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus etc.), Liver Function Tests (SGPT, SGOT etc.) and put each group in a single sheet. I also have a sheet for Others which includes all other tests that are not done frequently. That way all my blood tests will come into 5-6 sheets without any sheet becoming unreadable.

Now, looking for an older blood test value becomes very easy. Since all these tests will be entered in chronological order, you can also see trends and do cool looking graphs!

If you have an iPad, you could also sync this file with it and carry it along with you when you go to your nephrologist on your monthly review. And if he asks you, "Has your hemoglobin been this high ever?", you can quickly open that file and scan the sheet in a second and tell him, "No, doctor, never!" and then he might actually reduce your erythropoietin dose! So, moving to the electronic form of investigation record keeping can actually save you money!!!

(If you want a copy of the file I keep - without the data, simply the format - so that you can start entering your values immediately, send me an email and I will send the file to you.)

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