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Monday, September 12, 2011

She experienced relief sooner: Effects of a patient portal

A story from Debbie Scammon, PhD:
I continue to be impressed with the fervor of MyChart (our patient portal) users regarding the benefits to patients of on-line access to their medical records. In one recent focus group with patients with longevity with our clinics (visits over several years), 5 of 6 participants were avid users and the other one was an admitted technophobe. The 5 users repeatedly asked how they could help the other patient “get up” on MyChart so he could start seeing the benefits. One patient dealing with migraines was excited that as she and her provider experimented with alternative medications to treat her headaches she could report after each dose how she was feeling and how the new medication was working. With this ability to share her experiences with her provider in real-time, adjustments in dosage could be made quickly and the patient experienced relief sooner. Another patient pointed out to the group that he (at home), and his provider (during a visit), could see graphs of his health status over time (back years) and thus have a better idea of how he was progressing. Yet another patient was elated that when she tried to schedule a routine preventive screening, she found by looking at her records in MyChart that it wasn’t yet time for that exam and thus she was able to avoid an unnecessary test, one that would not have been covered by her insurance. Access to her medical record on-line gave her more control over her healthcare and a feeling of enhanced self-management.

These are exactly the sorts of benefits hoped for from the implementation of our patient portal. I’ve definitely seen that patients want to help each other gain access to the portal so that they can begin to take more control over their health.

See another of Debbie's stories, on seniors' use of social media.

Thanks to Debbie Scammon for this, based on her research project, “Transformed Primary Care - Care by Design,” funded by AHRQ (U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) Grant # 1 R18 HS19136, and led by Principal Investigator Michael Magill, MD.

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