Patient’s Medical Database

Back in my tracking costs post, I mentioned the possibility of designing a database to document and organize medical costs.  I’d initially been thinking of something very basic – just a glorified spreadsheet manager.  Friday afternoon I finally sat down to begin the design, and kept thinking of things I could add.  “This would be a cool feature.  Oh, and I could do that, too…” so the project has mushroomed significantly.

Instead of separate pages for medical, dental, and vision, all that information can be entered in one place.  I’ll also be able to include prescription costs, which I currently keep on yet another spreadsheet.  In addition to those basics, I realized this would be the perfect tool to track begin/discontinue dates on prescriptions.  Then I realized that I could move most of the information from my three-ring-binder to a database if I wanted to keep my appointment notes and test results on the computer, too.  This is going to take longer to program than the basic info that I was originally envisioning.

Access is a great database design program, and that’s what I’ve been planning to use.  However, I’ve been dragging my feet on upgrading my software.  Should I get the basic package?  I’ll be writing this for myself, so the platform doesn’t matter a whole lot.  But I have a tendency to share programs with others.  When that happens, I can only give the program to people who run the same version of Access.  Or should I splurge on the developer version?  Then I could share the program with anybody, regardless of whether or not they own a license to use Access (the downside to that is that I’m not crazy about giving a program away if it cost me hundreds of dollars to write it).

Then I discovered that OpenOffice includes a database (thank you to the extensive comments section on Whitecoat’s post on this subject).  So, if I can make the OpenOffice database do all the cool things I could do with Access, that’s the platform I’ll be using (since it’s free).  I’ve been playing with it, and the two programs are similar – but I haven’t yet figured out how to create lookup fields in Base, so who know which tool I’ll ultimately use.

If anyone is still reading, you’re probably saying, Get to the point, already!  It’s a lot easier to design everything from the beginning than it is to retrofit, so if you have ideas for other features, please let me know.  Here’s what I’m thinking about so far:

  • EOB tracking
  • Payment tracking
  • Year-end reports with $ amounts for tax preparation purposes
  • Medication history
  • Names/addresses of doctors, dentists, pharmacies, etc.
  • Patient notes from doctor’s appointments

Aside from dollar totals used in preparing a tax return, what information would you like to get out of a program like this?


The Party

What a great evening last night was!

Cocktail hour began at 5.  As a handshake preventative, I carried a small handbag in my left hand and a glass in my right.*  This was quite effective in making people realize that it was impossible for me to shake hands.  Out of 198 people in attendance, only one person squeezed my fingers.  Success!

Most people actually wore their name tags, and I’m finally getting the hang of small talk, so the mingling portion of the evening went well. At one point I was trapped in a conversation with somebody who droned on and on about how awful her fibromyalgia is and how nobody understands what it’s like to be in constant pain (fwiw, this is not an appropriate response to, “I like your dress”).  I came away realizing one of the reasons that I dislike revealing personal medical information.  Just because I’m in pain doesn’t mean I have to be one.

Door prizes were given away after dinner.  The company goes all out; door prizes include things like a ps3, a dvd player, a notebook computer, gift cards to a fancy restaurant, a couple cameras, gift certificates to a local spa… Good prizes.  Even better, I got to sit and watch someone else award the door prizes.

In addition to these, the company donated a flat-screen television to be raffled off.  Proceeds from the raffle tickets are donated to the local children’s hospital.  $1600 was raised, and the company will match that contribution.

Pills.  I’d decided to excuse myself and leave the room, however I got the lucky seat at our table and it wasn’t necessary after all.  It might have helped that I decided to wear subdued colors instead of my Christmas red dress that seems to attract attention.  With my back to most of the room, I wasn’t quite as noticable as sometimes (we sit at the head table, and some years it’s felt like we were under a microscope).  We’re in a new location with different setup, so it felt much more comfortable.  Most people were focused on the conversations at their own tables, and with my back to the room I could be inconspicuous.  It worked pretty well to hold my pill-box in my lap and take one pill at a time.

Thank you again for all the ideas.  I was prepared to leave the room, but ended up just taking the pills at our table with only a few people noticing.


Note:  The glass was cold.  90 minutes of a cold hand.  Brrrr.  Next year I’ll wear gloves.  However, it’s very nice to be taking a calcium channel blocker to prevent headaches, instead of a beta blocker.  Beta blockers can make Raynauds worse, but CCBs can be used to treat Raynauds.  It was very nice to keep the blood circulating in my fingers.