Six months ago I wrote a post regarding my experience with one of my specialists converting to an Electronic Health Record. They were only three weeks into the process when I had my visit and it took a little bit longer than normal since I had to meet with a registration person to fill in the details of the record that were already in my chart. Despite that, I still felt it was a positive change because it didn’t take much longer for my visit and my prescriptions were ordered for me without me having to take a paper prescription to the pharmacy.
Today, I went back for my six month follow up. I know the purpose was for my physician to check up on my health but I was much more interested to follow up on the progress being made in converting to Electronic Health Records. You have permission to think I’m totally a geek here if you want, but it did really interest me. Even before the visit I knew things had changed because I received an e-mail reminding me of my appointment instead of a message on my answering machine. The e-mail contained a link to access the patient portal where I could change my appointment time, order prescription refills, or even communicate with my doctor. Last time I reviewed the portal it was still a work in progress so I was excited to see the new functionality!
As I sat in the waiting room, I noticed a couple additional changes. There was no longer the sign requesting patience while they were converting to Electronic Health Records, so I assumed it must be complete. Additionally, there were no longer four pages of paperwork I had to fill out to update my medications and symptoms as in previous visits. I wondered to myself, how will they know what has changed? Perhaps I would go to the registration desk again to update the records there. Much to my surprise the nurse took me directly to the exam room and quickly updated the information on the computer as she checked my vitals. She entered my vitals and changes in medication immediately without having to enter it later from my illegible handwriting. (Spending all day every day on the computer has unfortunately taken its toll on my handwriting.)
More changes were evident as my physician entered the room. She came in with laptop in hand. She already had the information that had changed so we were once again able to focus on the real issues at hand. She entered information directly into my record as we chatted. No more flipping through eight years of records to remember what had happened in the past and what medications I was taking – it was easily accessible from my Electronic Health Record. I’ve read blogs about physicians that are concerned about losing connection with patients as they enter information on the computer. I didn’t feel that at all – she was still very engaged and it seemed to me that it took her less time to get caught up on my records looking at the computer than through eight years of hand written charts. She once again entered my prescription order right there and it was ordered as I sat there chatting with her.
Since we had such a nice visit, I asked her how she felt the transition was going. She was overjoyed! She said that it provided her with all the information she needed without the additional time required to enter information into my record. She also said it freed up the nursing staff to do more triage work rather than so much data entry so they could be of more assistance to the doctors and provide better care to patients. She shared with me that she gets about 50 requests for follow ups a day, half of which come from the web-based patient portal. She said the patient portal requests allowed her to ensure that patient’s questions were being answered in a timely manner much easier than returning phone calls.
This is my first physician to have started and completed the conversion to an Electronic Health Record. As a patient, I am very satisfied with the change. I felt much more comfortable with my doctor’s ability to quickly access information about me and maybe more importantly, more confident that I can now access that information in order to be a more informed patient!
Latest posts by Nita O'Neal (see all)
- Kudos to a Physician for Transferring to an EHR - May 20, 2011
- How Do You Learn? - January 20, 2011
- Up Close and Personal with Electronic Medical Records - November 30, 2010