Written by Kit Steinaway, retired Binc program manager, pictured with Binc Executive Director Pam French (left)
Over many years of assisting booksellers through medical challenges, Binc program managers have learned one very important fact: medical issues encompass much more than just paying the bills. Going through a serious medical event or dealing with a chronic condition is often both emotionally and financially draining. This is true whether you are the patient or a caregiver for a family member or loved one. Visits to the doctor, therapist or hospital often come with unfamiliar terminology, confusing instructions, and emotional diagnoses. Time and again we saw that dealing with the many details related to diagnosis, treatment, and bill paying would overwhelm a patient or caregiver. What was needed was a way for people to organize all the questions that needed to be asked, as well as a good way to reliably manage the data they were receiving. Weighed down with appointments, test results, diagnoses, therapies, prescriptions, referrals, and bills, many patients and caregivers would lose hope. Additionally, necessary local support services to help them through their medical journey could be difficult to find without some direction.
As we worked with booksellers navigating a wide variety of medical issues in nearly every state, we collected a vast array of resources, useful tips, and helpful suggestions. Everything from the initial questions to ask when choosing a provider, through diagnosis and treatments, and culminating with the payment of the bill. Our goal was to give patients and caregivers some guidance and to provide one place to accurately record and store all the information that was being provided to them. Keeping all vital medical information in one place makes the journey less intimidating and helps to ensure the best quality medical care.
Through our own personal medical journeys (as patients and caregivers) and with the knowledge gleaned to help grantees and additional collaboration with friends and various medical professionals, a handbook began to take shape. The initial collection of resources took the form of a homemade booklet, stitched together on a home sewing machine. This booklet along with a blank journal provided grantees with the information they needed to ask informed questions and a place to record the answers they received from their providers. While we knew the booklet was useful to the many booksellers who had used the resource and reported on its value, we longed for something more professional. It was time to see if we could get this beneficial manual published and into the hands of a wider audience.
We shared our homemade booklet and our vision for a comprehensive medical care journal with our friends at Sourcebooks. They immediately saw its value and were anxious to help bring our vision to life. Thanks to their support we are now able to offer My Medical Journal to all booksellers and comic retailers who apply to Binc with medical or caregiving needs. More importantly, this book is now available through any bookstore (and Bookshop.org) to anyone wanting this essential resource as they navigate the difficult, confusing, and often emotional road of medical care and caregiving. And through the generosity of Sourcebooks, a portion of the price of each My Medical Journal will continue to support the mission of the Binc Foundation.
“Binc’s medical journal is an incredible resource for anyone with health issues to evaluate and keep track of their records and wellbeing. From tips on how to negotiate a medical bill to daily mental health check-ins, this journal provides an interactive and cohesive space for documentation and reflection.”
– A patient who is navigating complicated medical issues and currently using the beta version of Binc’s Personal Medical Care Journal
“Having a medical journal is a lifesaver for keeping track of information during a medical crisis. We were able to reference information from the notes during conversations with doctors. Throughout the process having the notes from previous conversations and information proved to be invaluable for myself and my family.”
– An adult child managing their parent’s medical care from afar.