Get to know your GP well

IN TOUCH: Seeing the same GP over a long period of time may help you to live longer, according to a study.
IN TOUCH: Seeing the same GP over a long period of time may help you to live longer, according to a study.

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Tracking your health information is possible as your life changes, according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president.

Dr Bastian Seidel, who runs a general practice in regional Australia, said data can be transferred to other locations if your doctor or circumstances change.

He said there are many health benefits to keeping with the same doctor during your life.

He cited a study in the Netherlands published in the British Journal of General Practice in August 2016 that found people who saw the same doctor lived longer than those who did not.

Dr Seidel encouraged people to develop a relationship with their GP.

“They become your specialist in life, they’ll help you manage your health,” he said.

However if life’s circumstances change or you are faced with an emergency and you cannot see the same doctor, there are ways to ensure your medical history goes with you.

If you move away or decide to change doctors, you can tell your current GP who your last doctor was, and they will then contact that clinic to source your information and transfer it over.

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Dr Seidel said most GPs use electronic health records for their patients, which may include information such as consultation notes and blood results. As such, data can be transferred immediately. The trusted mail system also can be used.

If you present to a doctor’s surgery or an emergency department and you don’t have your medical history with you, the surgery or hospital will be happy to contact your old GP and ask for information to be transferred on the spot.

Data may also include your allergies, family and social history, any medications you take and operations you may have had in the past. 

Dr Seidel said such information is easy to pass on with short notice. If you have an incomplete medical history, in particular with immunisation, it may be more difficult to source all the information. But not all is lost. Your new GP may be able to call your previous doctors to send their data about you to them. 

If you have an incomplete immunisation record, your level of cover for some illnesses may be checked with a blood test.