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Friday, November 17, 2017

Why can’t I use my patient portal to make my doctor’s appointment more efficient?





The healthcare industry has made substantial gains over the past ten years due to the implementation of technology and the realization that consumers are the most important members of the healthcare team.

Today, most hospital systems and physician practices have electronic medical records that have helped them know more about their populations than they ever before. As a result, they can focus on key indicators to help them better diagnose and treat their patients. Electronic health records allow physicians, and nurse practitioners to order medications safely. They also have patient portals that allow patients to access lab work, make and check appointments and send messages to their providers. These are significant advances, yet, we are still behind other countries and industries on learning how to use health information technology to improve care coordination and contain healthcare costs. 

Case In Point:

While I was waiting to see my primary care physician yesterday, I looked around the waiting room that was full of people waiting to see their doctors as well as staff members doing their work. Most of the people were on their smartphones or I-pads. What I found interesting was the number of charging stations placed around the room. I have never seen so many in one place but was glad they were there as my cell phone battery was low. I moved closer to one of the stations so I could charge and still use my device. Having my cell with me helps me make productive use of my time while waiting. 

I noted that there was a wide variety of people ranging in age and from different cultures. People seemed to be relaxed and focused on what they were doing.  I thought it was interesting how we have all gotten used to waiting when we go to our doctor’s offices.  As I sat there, I started to make my to-do list as I will be leaving for a trip in the next few days and needed to organize myself. 

In thinking about my trip, I checked the website for the airline I was flying to make sure I had my seats reserved. As I did this, I wondered why couldn’t I pre-register for my doctor’s appointment like I do for a flight when I travel?

I would love to be able to log into my patient portal and register for my appointment. While there I could check for any instructions from my doctors. List any questions I had for the doctor, note any new medications I was taking, and review any test I had prior to the appointment. Doing these things would allow me to be prepared and be more efficient. This would help me be more actively involved in my care rather than a passive bystander. We have the technology to do all of this so why is the healthcare system not more efficient?

If we are going to improve the healthcare system, we have to engage people to be prepared for their appointments. Doing so will help our doctor identify barriers we have and allow us (the patient) to be actively involved in our health and healthcare. I am putting a call out to readers to let me know how technology has allowed you to be an active member of your healthcare team. Please share your experience so we can all learn.

Resources: 

Here are some articles that point to how technology can be used to improve the delivery of care. Staying up to date on trends and issues is important for us all. Take time to read these articles, then ask questions of your healthcare provider as to what they are doing to enhance your healthcare experience. Get involved and together we can change the system, so that is set up to meet the needs of the end users, YOU and ME. 

Unlocking the value of patient portals: 3 thoughts from Athena Health








What to do While Waiting

Have a good week!