Rochester, NY

Be a savvy health care consumer

ROCHESTER, NY – Managing your health care, or the care of a loved one, can be overwhelming, especially if complex medical conditions are involved, or the list of providers and prescriptions is long. Here are easy ways to keep it all under control.

Get organized. “Create a health care binder with the names and contact information for your health insurer, each provider you see, and the pharmacy and lab you use,” says Dr. Mark Brown, medical director at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. He recommends a three-ring binder so you can add and remove pages. Pick one that is brightly colored, and label it clearly so it stands out from your other important documents. Include a calendar and extra pages so you can keep a running log of office visits and topics covered.

If you have a family member or trusted friend who assists with health care paperwork or transportation to appointments, show them your binder and explain your record keeping system. It’s good to have backup.

Get connected. Create a member login for your insurer’s website and download the mobile app if it has one. Establish accounts with each of your providers’ online patient portals. These tools provide easy two-way communication with your care team and allow you to receive email and text reminders about appointments, screenings, and even lab results. Store the usernames and passwords in your binder.

“Make sure your providers are connected with each other by consenting to Rochester RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization), the Finger Lakes region’s secure health information exchange,” says Brown. “Ask your provider to supply you with the form.” Rochester RHIO supports authorized medical providers and over 1.5 million residents in over 14 counties across upstate New York including Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Seneca, Wayne, and Yates counties. Consenting allows your medical care team to securely share records across connected institutions and practices, making your patient information available wherever and whenever needed for your care.

Get support. Anyone, at any time, could need someone they trust to get involved in their care. Add a family member or friend to your caregiver team by signing HIPAA authorization forms allowing your providers to share information with them. “Having that extra set of ears will help ensure that you clearly understand your provider’s instructions,” says Brown. He also recommends patients select a health care agent to make decisions on their behalf if they are unable to speak for themselves. This is done by completing a health care proxy form, available from any health care provider. Keep a copy in your binder and share copies with family members.

“Managing your health care can be so much easier if you follow these simple suggestions,” encourages Brown. “You can do this!”

For more health and wellness information visit

Karen Feigel, (585) 238-4308,

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 4,000 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit


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