Staying at home and maintaining safe physical distance means that some primary care practices are not functioning normally during the pandemic. However, you may still want to connect with your doctor. In fact, you may have urgent questions about how to stay healthy or what to do if you become ill. Do you have a way to get answers? In many cases, you can use the patient portal for your electronic medical record to communicate with your health care provider.
What Is a Patient Portal?
In a world where transactions of every sort take place online, health care facilities once lagged behind. It took passage of the American Reinvestment and Recovery in 2009 to encourage clinics, hospitals and practices to embrace health information technology. Among the goals of this initiative was to engage patients and families in their own health care and to improve patient access to health information. In many cases, health care organizations achieved this by providing a patient portal to the electronic medical record that they created.
Have You Used Your Patient Portal?
Although many if not most Americans who have received health care from a hospital or clinic over the past several years were offered access to their electronic health records through a patient portal, only one in ten actually used that access (Health Affairs, Nov. 2019). Some of these people don’t have access to computers or internet at home. Others wonder why they should bother.
What Do You Know About Your Diagnosis and Treatment?
If you have ever forgotten details of what your healthcare provider told you during a visit, you are not alone. Most of us have a hard time remembering the details of a difficult diagnosis. We may also forget about the treatment plan the doctor, nurse practitioner or PA outlined. The patient portal can help you refresh your memory about those important conversations, so long as it lets you read summaries of them in a document called clinic notes, Open Notes or Our Notes.
Engaged patients have learned to use the patient portal to good advantage. We talk with e-Patient Dave about how he became an e-patient and how access to his electronic medical record helps. The downside to electronic health records: you can see the errors, but correcting them is extremely difficult.
We also speak with a doctor who helped pioneer the concept of patient portals and Open Notes. Dr. Danny Sands is also e-Patient Dave’s physician. How does he see electronic health records, Open Notes and a patient portal helping with doctor-patient collaboration and better follow-through?
This Week’s Guests:
Richard Davies deBronkart Jr, widely known as e-Patient Dave, is a cancer patient and blogger who, in 2009, became a noted activist for healthcare transformation through participatory medicine and personal health data rights.
His latest book is Superpatients, Patients Who Extend Science When Medicine Is Out of Answers.
Daniel Z. Sands, MD, MPH, FACP, FACMI, is Co-Founder and Board Chair of the Society for Participatory Medicine. He is also a primary care physician and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Sands is the chief medical officer of Backpack Health.
The photograph shows both e-Patient Dave and Dr. Danny Sands.
You can learn more about the Society for Participatory Medicine at participatorymedicine.org.
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