While my children’s wish lists are filled with toys, electronics, and every “as seen on TV” creation known to man, my list is much shorter: I want electronic access to my family’s health information.
In the past 12 months, we’ve received medical care in at least a dozen different locations and from even more individual providers – urgent care, emergency room, orthopedist, labs, pediatrician, internal medicine and more. Being the informed health care consumer that I am, I read every insurance explanation of benefits. I go across town to pick up X-rays and records for the next provider of care. I ask questions about recurring health issues and any trends that I’ve noticed.
As an advocate and promoter of health IT, I’m ready for the next step. I’m ready to be able to share those hospital discharge reports with my primary care provider on my computer at 10 pm. I’m ready to have the same insight into my health care history as I do into my online shopping purchase history.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
As consumers of health care, it’s time to expect and embrace electronic access and electronic communications with our providers, just as we’ve embraced shopping online, banking online and even our children’s school progress. It’s time to do our part. Our doctors and hospitals have been busy taking care of patients, implementing electronic health records (EHRs), and keeping up with changing regulations. So let’s give them a word of encouragement and tell them we support their efforts and encourage them to take the next step. If you happen to be a lucky person whose provider offers a patient portal, sign up, log in and say, “Thank you!”
To the hardworking doctors, nurses, and staff of their clinics who have cared for my family this year, thank you! You did an amazing job taking care of my family. As you continue advancing health IT in your clinic, know that I’m here to be your cheerleader…to be the first to log in to your new patient portal…to tell your front desk person that he or she is doing great on her third day on the new EHR…to readily give you the name of my preferred pharmacy for the electronic prescribing you can now do.
With 2014 on the horizon, I am filled with excitement. New meaningful use guidelines mean more providers than ever will be promoting patient portals. They will be encouraging patients to communicate through secure electronic messaging. The stage is set for 2014 to be the year of the patient.
Let’s do our part.Yes, this year all I want for Christmas is electronic access and communication with my family’s care team…oh, yes, and chocolate!