A universal medical record can save your life abroad

A Travel Health post on 7/29/2014

Before you travel, you want to make sure you are as healthy as you can be. This means visiting a travel medicine specialist to determine disease-preventive measures specific to your travel destination, ensuring you are up to date on routine immunizations such as measles, which is still endemic to many international destinations, and confirming you have a sufficient supply of prescriptions you take on a regular basis. It also helps to have organized and current medical records that you can access in case you need medical care anywhere in the world.

When you receive medical care at home, you may see several different physicians – a cardiologist, a dermatologist, an OB/GYN or other specialists. To ensure that you receive the most appropriate care, all these different physicians need access to your up-to-date, complete medical record. The same is true when you seek medical care overseas, but it is even more difficult to provide any treating physicians with that comprehensive information when you’re outside the U.S.

A universal medical record can facilitate this process and ensure that you get the care you need, even when you are traveling.

Universal medical records can make a life-saving difference
The key steps we take when creating a universal medical record include collecting, organizing, and facilitating physician review of all your records. We then make them available to you in a secure online format for access anywhere, anytime. This includes updates on any chronic medical conditions, allergies, recent surgeries, chemotherapy regimens and medication lists.

Personally, I have seen how universal medical records can help ensure you get the care you need while traveling.

When a member was traveling in Canada and lost her medications, our team was able to give the emergency room doctor temporary access to her medical records so he could see the neurology notes and write all of her prescriptions. As a result of previous unsuccessful trials using generic medication, this patient required use of only brand-name drugs, many of which were controlled substances, so it was important to show the doctor that there was a history of prescriptions, since the socialized medicine model in Canada requires the use of generic drugs whenever possible. The patient was able to receive all of her medications the same day, except for one prescription that came from a compounding pharmacy, which took 24 hours.

Another patient traveling to Africa made a stop in Israel, where he needed a booster immunization. We were able to contact the doctor at the hotel in Israel and forward him the appropriate records so he could provide care.

These two instances highlight the importance of having access to your medical records when abroad. Doing so can ultimately prevent a delay in care when you need it most and keep your medical needs taken care of while you’re traveling.


To learn more about how universal medical records are beneficial both at home and abroad, click here.


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