Last week we met Darlene and Jack Check in - Your Routine Doctor’s Office Appointment—Which Patient are You? (copdfoundation.org) and listened in on the first few minutes of their routine medical office visits. We found that Jack came prepared, providing information to the doctor, allowing time to talk together and develop an effective COPD management plan.
Whether you prefer using a pen and paper or an electronic aid to track, you can track your health information and prepare for visits with your doctors. Two different ways to do this are 1) to keep a medical notebook on paper and 2) use the COPD Pocket Consultant Guide (PCG) app.
A medical notebook includes a two-pocket folder and a spiral tablet, 8 1/2 x 11 or 5 x 7 inches. Here are some suggestions on what to record and how to use it.
You can record these things in your spiral tablet:
- Day and date
- How you are feeling today (tired, energetic, happy, sad, easy breathing, difficult breathing, etc.), Nebulizer and inhaler meds you took.
- If you have a pulse oximeter, record your oxygen saturation and heart rate
- If you have a device that checks your blood pressure, record that.
Make sure to log these vital signs at the same time each day, at the same level of exertion.
- Do you have a cough?
- If so, do you produce mucus?
- If so, record the color, if it is thick, thin, or sticky, and how much mucus there is (think in terms of the size of coins or measuring spoons).
- Do you notice any breathing triggers—things in the air around you that may send you into difficulty breathing, such as strong odors, dust, and allergens.
- Did you exercise, stretch, or do weight or resistance training?
- How is your appetite?
If you have chronic pain, ask your doctor about using a numbered pain scale.
In another section, write down questions you have about your breathing and your overall health. If you happen to get the answer to a question before your next appointment - great! Just cross it off your list!
You can include these things in your pocket folder:
- Notes and instructions from your last appointment.
- List of all medications you’re currently using—names, doses, and how they are supposed to help.
- Results of medical tests or health screens.
- One or two advertisements or materials related to COPD to show your doctor if you have questions about them.
COPD PCG app
The PCG app can be downloaded at the App Store and Google Play.
COPD Pocket Consultant Guide on the App Store (apple.com)
COPD Pocket Consultant Guide - Apps on Google Play
The COPD Pocket Consultant Guide (PCG) is a printed, laminated, 6-panel card that provides tools to health care providers for diagnosing, treating, and managing COPD. As technology became available, the PCG was put also into an app. As technology advanced and more and more people were using electronic tablets and mobile phones with apps, the PCG app for patients and caregivers was launched. This free app can do much the same thing as the medical notebook, but electronically. All sections are printable (make sure your device is set up to connect with your printer).
For My Next Visit: This section includes 1) questions to ask your health care team and 2) symptoms that have changed since your last visit. Put in the questions and symptoms that are important to you and bring it to your office visit, whether printed or in the app.
My COPD Action Plan: This canhelp you manage your COPD, day to day. Click on the symptoms you’re having, and the app will walk you through the steps. Go over your My COPD Action Plan on the app with your health care provider so you understand what actions to take.
Calendar: Activity Tracking, My COPD Action Plans, and For Your Next Visit entries are stored in your calendar. You can watch for patterns in your symptoms and track your information from week to week, month to month.
Activity Tracking: In this section, you can track how easy or hard it is to do some daily activities. The empty box at the end of this list is there for you to add a goal that is important and meaningful to you.
Wallet Card: This is a place to put your important contact and health information including medications and vaccines.
For more on the app and brief video tutorials, go to: The COPD Pocket Consultant Guide | Patient & Caregiver Track (copdfoundation.org)
So, how do you keep track? Let’s talk. I look forward to hearing from you!