shutterstock_50712442When you live full-time in an RV, like we do, everything you own is with you, including any medical records.  What happens if you visit a Doctor in Arizona, and lose the written report?  Your medical records will be incomplete, and your regular Doctor in Florida won’t know anything about it.  We try to get a printed report any time we visit a Doctor anywhere.  But, paperwork is a problem in our small home, even though we took out the couch to add filing drawers.

Don’t Count on your Doctor to Maintain your Records

We just spent the entire winter season in our old hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and considered it a luxury to be able to visit the same Doctors’ office that we did in years passed.  When we returned for a followup visit, we found the doors closed, the phone disconnected and NO information. A new doctor needed some old information and I couldn’t give it to her.

Take a Picture

Without those historical records, I had to go get a new Xray of an old knee surgery in order to know whether there was any metal pins or staples in my knee.  So, this time, when we were looking at the Xray, I asked if I could take a picture with my cell phone.  They said, ‘Sure.’  I also took a picture of the written report.  You’d be surprised at the quality of the results.  I’ve created a folder on my computer called medical records and it contains photographs of all pertinent records. Now *that* doesn’t take up any space!



Because of a family member with Alzheimer’s, I’ve been learning about the MedicAlert + Safe Return program.  The more I learn, the more I think that *everyone* should have a MedicAlert bracelet.  Especially travelers.  The bracelet is engraved with your member ID number and the MedicAlert phone number.  If you are ever in a situation requiring the services of emergency personnel, they will see the bracelet, call the number and be able to find out the phone numbers for your emergency contacts, as well as any allergies, conditions, and Doctor phone numbers.  This is life-saving stuff.  If you change Doctors, you go online, log in to your MedicAlert account, and update the information yourself.  Easily done.  You pay $25/year for the service.  There is a MedicAlert ‘Gold’ program for $9.95/mo to store all your records.

Google Health

I have recently started using the free online medical records system by Google at Google Health.  In addition to allowing me to enter Doctors, Allergies, Conditions, Procedures and Test results, I can also:

  • Upload files like the picture I took of the knee Xray.
  • You can even track test results, like Cholesteral levels, over time on a  graph.
  • You can print out a profile and use that when you go to a new doctor, saving you a lot of time filling out their forms.
  • If you deal with any of the Hospitals, Doctors, or Pharmacies that partner with Google Health, you can import all their information.  For example, if you use the Walgreens pharmacy, you can import your prescription history by linking your Walgreens profile with Google Health.


I’m betting that the first thing many people will say is,

“I don’t want to put my medical information on the web.”

Security is very good on Google Health and many others – but any information on the Internet is subject to possible exposure.  It’s being naive to think that your information isn’t already out there.  With all the Pharmacies, Hospitals, Doctors and Insurance companies – I think your medical information is already on the web.  The main problem with this information is that *you* don’t have access to it!  In my book, the benefits of having all my important medical information in one place where I can get to it anytime I need it, *far* outweigh the potential risk of exposure.  But that’s me – if you feel otherwise, you can stick to your paper records.

Other Options

Google Health is not the only player in this field.  Microsoft offers Health Vault; if you’re a Veteran, you should check out My HealtheVet; No More Clipboard has a free account and a premium account for $9.95/year and has received excellent reviews.  I found a lot of my information in this fellow RVers blog post: Traveling with your Medical Records.

What about you?  How do you manage your medical records as you travel?

by Chris Guld,

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  573. Jim Baker

    I forgot to mention that your flash drive will fit in the USB port on EMT’s laptop, so your information is instantly available at the scene of an accident or emergency.
    Jim Baker

  574. Jim Baker

    I keep a file of my medical records in my computer. Before each trip I download them to a flash drive. I carry mine on a carabiner ring on a belt loop. It has a rubber rim to absorb shock. On the ring also is a dog tag engraved, “Baker, medical Info.” My wife carries hers on a gold chain around her neck. The smalles capacity flash drives have enough memory to store a novel, and usually cost around $10.00

    My information does not contain my home address, but does have names and numbers of all my physicians, medications, my medical condition, phones of next of kin and my physical description.
    Jim Baker

  575. Patricia Arthur

    I’ll have to agree with Geoffrey Pruett about the DVD, and to save time and space in your RV, everytime you have an X-ray, MRI, Pet Scan, whatever, immediately ask the tech to put it on a disc for you. If you have medical records, the same can be done with your doctor…..ask the nurse to put the records on a disc. With the amount of medical records I have had in the last 7 years, there is no paperwork, but just a number of discs which I keep in a disc container. On each disc you receive, there should be the name of the medical institution, the doctor’s name, the proceedure, with the date and time. These can be filed in seperate disc containers so each one is for a specific item, ie: Radiology, surgery, doctors’ notes, etc. So easy.

    Dr. Patricia Arthur (Retired)
    [email protected]

  576. Patch Allen


    I searched on-line for the ICE CARD, but could find nothing….Do you have any more information or a web link?

  577. Shelia Whitten

    I requested records from all of our doctors before hitting the road in the RV. I scanned some but not all of the information, tests – yes, info about surgeries – yes. As I see the home town doctors each year and other doctors while on the road I had the information to my scanned files.

    I purchased a ICE CARD from CVS Pharmacy. Problem that I have had, only PC platform. Dr wouldn’t load software onto their computer for the ICE Card so that I could have their reports and copy of MRI done at recent visit. Doctors are still afraid of technology, just like teachers are in our education system in some schools.

    I know about the teachers because my former working life (20 years) I sold technology type tools to be used by teachers in our education system. It’s amazing that new teachers are still not being taught how to utilize technology tools in their teaching and record keeping.

    I feel it’s the same way now for the doctors and their staff members. It may take 20 years to get the medical record systems we all would like to see, transportable and safe. I advise each RVer to be responsible for their own records. Share information with loved ones and keep a copy in your safe and somehow carry a secure electronic record, not a paper copy, with you at all times or a way to access your information at all times.

    Safe travels to everyone.

  578. Dan Rambow

    I am preparing to hit the road full-time in the next several months. Since I will be continuing my business in a new mobile capacity, I invested in a production scanner and am converting many file drawers of business records into PDF files. These will be stored on DVD disks with copies kept at my kids houses.

    I do have copies of my medical records, and will also scan them in as well. By having the digital copies, I can print or transmit whatever is needed, when it is needed. Adding pictures (cell phone or camera) as new records are created, is a pretty good idea. Thanks.

    I will be keeping the scanner with me on the road, as I intend to add scanning and saving documents for others, into my business services.

  579. Nancy Whitley

    The site would not come up for me. I also pasted in my browser with no success. Any suggestions?


    Keeping records in your purse is the worst place since a purse is subject to being left somewhere or grabbed and stolen. What physican’s need are other physician’s notes and diagnosis to be able to react fast in an emergency. I do believe that there will be instances of identity theft, but at least you have a fighting chance in an emergency room somewhere.

    Geoffrey is correct – there were always security issues especially with faxes that were left laying around in the fax machines waiting to be picked up and could be ready by almost anyone.

    So far Kaiser is far ahead of anyone else I know .

  581. Geoffrey Pruett

    If you go to a doctor using the nearest hospitals data base for record keeping it is possible to get a DVD of your records to keep with you and to sign a permission slip to give the local doctor access to hospital records if they are part of the nationwide systems now going into place. We also can Email the doctors office for copies. With the level of doctor-hospital activity set to go up as the new health plan kicks in much of the health care industry is using electronic data storage and sharing as a cost/manpower saving. There are very few places left that do not have internet connections. There will be security issues as this spreads, but there were security issues using snail mail and fax machines. When you need information quickly the new electronic transfers can be a real life saver!

  582. richard Gerber

    scan all your records, back them up on an external hard drive and keep that in a fire proof safe in your rig with all your papers. Give the password to the safe and hard drive to a trusted person. prepare for the worst and enjoy, sleep easy

  583. John (carverant)

    I will look up those sites though we are not travelling full time.Last week I was talking to my surgeon and he suggested we get a copy of our report. I went and got a copy of mine 294 pages and for the wife about 10. I remember as a kid I had some issues, shots etc and when I became an adult went to find the Dr. and he had retired and no one knew where the records were. Now I have a permanent copy in the safe and will get copies from each visit.Thanks.John

  584. I’m one of those who are “hesitant” to put my medical records online.

    I carry a piece of paper with anything “important” like drugs I’m allergic to, and all the shots I’ve had. It’s in my purse, if anyone thinks to look there.