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Why Cancer Patients Should Get Organized

Family Matters - Winter 2012


Janice Simon believes that cancer patients can, and should, get organized.

A project director in the Office of Academic Affairs at MD Anderson, Simon realizes that collecting and sorting paperwork is time-consuming and may seem overwhelming.

But, she points out, consolidating personal documents, health records and questions benefits patients and physicians by making appointments more efficient and productive.

Take small steps

So they don’t feel overwhelmed, Simon recommends that patients take small steps toward organization.

First, they should decide which documents to keep and discard, dividing the process into less intimidating chunks to increase their chances of completing each task.

Patients can then use a three-ring binder with subject dividers to categorize documents according to type. Categories may include bills, insurance information or medical records.

Before the all-important appointment with a physician, patients can prepare an updated list of their medications, as well as any current research they’ve gathered on their cancer or condition.

“Medical visits run more smoothly when patients come prepared with a list of questions for their doctors,” Simon says. “It can also lead to shorter and more productive appointments.”

Keep a notebook handy

She advises patients to carry a notebook with them wherever they go. Any time they think of a question, they can write it down to reduce the likelihood of forgetting to address it at their next visit.

Scanning and storing documents electronically can also help patients stay organized and avoid losing this crucial information in the event of a fire, flood or natural disaster.

Simon also notes that if patients should need to evacuate or if their files are unexpectedly damaged, having records saved on a flash drive or laptop computer can keep them organized and prepared.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center