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?