4

Countless times I've been to the doctor and forgot mentioning specific details about my various health conditions. So, I decided to take detailed notes of symptoms (pain, dizziness, etc) long before visiting the doctor.

Medical apps are out of the question due to their lackluster security (sending data over http, storing unencrypted data in 3rd party servers, etc.)[1]:

Our three-stage study raises many concerns and shows some serious problems with Android mHealth apps. The major issue is unencrypted communication over the Internet and use of thirty party hosting and storage services. Our study shows that a significant number of the apps in the top health related apps from the Google Play market have these issues.

I'll be storing data in a LibreOffice Spreadsheet using something similar to the OPQRST mnemonic:

symptoms_spreadsheet_sample

The small images were created using Inkscape (I move the semi-transparent circles on the relevant body-part, resize them and use shift + print screen)


The pain scale is based on this:

Pain_scale_image

Questions

Is there anything else a doctor should know?

Bonus question:
Is there a better way to describe symptoms?
Obvious drawbacks which I'd love suggestions for:

  • I can't note symptoms on the run as I would with an app. It takes time to note them accurately enough. Any way to make the process faster?

Note: If I should be splitting the Q into a Q and self-answer, let me know.

3

It‘s all about algorithms

What you have done with the OPQPRST is a great start, but to save yourself even more trouble, there is one more algorithm which can help you:

SAMPLER

Standing for

  • Symptoms [include OPQPRST in this]
  • Allergies
  • Medication you are currently taking
  • Past illnesses
  • Last oral intake (+ last menstruation for women)
  • Events that lead to the symptoms
  • Risk factors (i.e. smoking, alcoholism, addictions etc.)

This is an algorithm that‘s used by professionals for patient assessement after the cABCDE check (which only applies in traumatology and you don’t really need to use with general practitioners)

Pain Assesement

The scale you are using is great, but I recommend to give a reference point: If 10 is my pain during labour, this broken arm is around 3 gives doctors more information that just saying three because pain is highly subjective and for someone who had a lot of pain before, the scale might really be different compared to someone who got lucky in life so far or didn’t birth children (yet).

Medication

Write down a list of the medicine you are taking before a visit. That way you can convey more information than two small white pills in the morning and a large blue one after supper.

2

Is your issue that your forget to mention your [stomach pain, rash, sleeplessness] or that you forget where it was, how much it hurt, etc? The sorts of things you have in your question would appear relevant only to the latter. For the former, a little notebook in which you write literally one or two words should be enough for you to remember to mention it, with the actual details being supplied from memory, no?

I have a dedicated notebook that is only for doctor appointments and I write things in it as they happen or occur to me. It might say "thyroid refill" if I'm getting low on them. Or it might say "back pain" or whatever. Often I write things the doctor says in the same book in case I need to check them later. It's simple, almost free, secure, and private.

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