I’ve been working at Corepoint Health for five years so I have an academic and professional understanding of electronic healthcare messages and the HITECH requirements including Electronic Medical Records. However, today was my first personal encounter with an Electronic Medical Record and it was very positive from a patient point of view.
I went to a specialist that I visit twice a year for a follow-up appointment. Imagine my delight and surprise when I found a large blue and white professionally printed sign prominently posted behind the receptionist that said,
“Please be patient. We are converting to Electronic Medical Records in order to better serve you.”
Being in the business I am in, I was excited to see how my visit would be impacted by this change. What might be different now? Would there be as much paperwork? Would my visit be streamlined? If I didn’t have the background I have the sign might have alarmed me a bit. What do I need to be patient about? What is this Electronic Medical Record anyway?
I was first called to a registration desk where a data entry professional confirmed basic demographic information that was already entered into my Electronic Medical Record from my charts and updated additional or incorrect information. She also scanned the paperwork I filled out while waiting regarding my current symptoms into the computer. This all took about ten minutes. In my opinion this was a small price to pay to ensure my records were up-to-date.
As an added bonus, she gave me a username and password to sign into a secure portal where I can communicate with my doctor, review my lab results, request appointments and refills and view my Personal Health Record. They only began this transition three weeks ago so the portal is not completely functional yet. I can’t wait to see what information they have that I can access at anytime in case I need to provide details to another physician or healthcare facility!
Next, I went back to the exam room where the nurse entered more information into my Electronic Medical Record regarding my medications and vital signs. Yes, there was information I had to repeat that I knew was already in my chart, which might have frustrated me if I didn’t understand the benefit of an EMR, but it didn’t take too long. Then my doctor entered with laptop in hand. She already had the image of the scanned symptom sheet on her laptop so we saved time going over the non-interesting parts of that sheet and were able to quickly delve into the real issues.
We discussed what was going on and she entered notes regarding our conversation and ordered my prescriptions right there on her laptop. Imagine my delight in not having to take my prescriptions physically to the pharmacy or put it in the mail to the mail order pharmacy! Additionally, I believe it will make our next visits more efficient since she will no longer have to page through 8 years of notes to find my symptom and medication history – she can simply look on my EMR.
My first encounter with an Electronic Medical Record was quite positive. I think even if I didn’t have a previous understanding of what an EMR was, I would still be pleased since for very little of my time my accurate medical history is easily accessed by my physician, and in the future will be available to other physicians and healthcare entities. I now have access to my information anytime I need it and my prescriptions are already on their way to my pharmacy. I think from a patient standpoint, it’s a win-win!