An Apple a Day...

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Thursday, 20 December 2012 16:29

Imagine a world where every patient has access to all of the information they need to make educated decisions about their healthcare, their lifestyle and their future. In order to make those decisions the patient needs to know their history, their present, and have access to enough data to help understand what the future could hold. As the famous saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what is pomegranate or a cheeseburger doing? Our fast paced lifestyle doesn’t allow for much time to research why our bodies are doing what they do, patients rely on physicians to figure out what is wrong within the 20 minute visit and prescribe a pill that will solve the problem.  Typically the physician only access to limited medical records and the current complaint to base his/ her diagnosis on, but what if we could give every patient the chance to take control of their own health?

As a pet owner I know what to expect when I go to the vet, besides a bill, I expect a sheet that tells me when and how to give my cat her medication. About a month ago I went to the vet and I was surprised to find the veterinarian had converted all of my pet records to electronic records and, as if that wasn’t impressive enough, they have a pet portal. I was given a printout of my visit and an ID and password to login online. I went home and immediately logged in and there was my pet’s history! I could see her entire records from the date she was first seen to medication she was given that day. The pet portal offered reminders for needed follow up and it had basic tools for caring for my pet. I was able to learn what diseases are common among cats like her and what type of care is recommended to prevent certain issues.

Comparing my experience at the vet to my last doctor’s visit makes me realize how much further healthcare has to go. The last time I went to the doctor I was given a sheet of paper called “Patient Summary” that listed medications I was no longer on and diagnosis I was never informed of. After reviewing the summary with the nurse she said she would fix the incorrect information. She added the sheet to a pile of at least 50 other sheets with errors.

As the growing number of hospitals and physicians offices make the transition to digital records we are learning that it’s not easy and there will be many bumps along the road, such as errors in patient files. But the benefits will far outweigh the difficulties.  We are building a database filled with information that will further help our physicians and patients work together to improve our health and reduce the costs of healthcare.

Every healthcare provider should offer their patients the same benefits my cat is receiving. Having access to their medical records will empower the patient and allow them to make better decisions about their healthcare and lifestyle. By giving the patient the needed information they can begin to change habits that may be contributing to their ailments such as eating better, exercising, sleeping, etc. At the same time physicians can analyze the data to find trends, help with diagnosis and provide follow up and preventative care.

Unfortunately, unlike my cat, most patients are unable to go to the same doctor for all of their needs. Between the general physician and the specialists, most patients visit multiple offices. Which brings me to the next hurdle with patient portals, how can a patient manage all of their data? Physicians and hospitals will need to standardize their records and create a universal patient portal. As we moved forward with healthcare technology we must stay a step ahead, always planning ways to improve current technology and provide the patient with the most valuable information.

Zoraida Kincaid

If you are interested in finding out more information about patient portals and what CoreTech can do to implement and personalize a custom Patient Portal for your office, click here.