From online scheduling to telehealth appointments, things look much different these days when it comes to managing your health. Now, with a click of a button, you have access to all your medical information through an electronic health record, or EHR.
Thanks in part to the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, almost 99% of health systems, hospitals and medical practices today now use some form of EHR, which means you likely are connected too.
“EHRs are not only a more efficient form of record-keeping, but they are also bringing us closer to more personalized care and medicine,” said Matthew Anderson, MD, medical director and innovation lead physician at Banner Health. “It’s improving the way we care for patients and helping patients more actively participate in decisions about their care.”
While the majority of us have looked up an ailment or issue online, have you taken a peek at your own health information in your EHR portal?
If you haven’t had a chance to check out your own EHR or have been hesitant, here are five reasons to get connected.
1. You can connect with your health care team
Whether by computer, phone or tablet, the online portal of your EHR offers you a convenient way to connect with your doctor’s office and medical team.
“Long gone are the days of playing phone tag with your doctor’s office or missing important phone calls from your provider, now you can send a secure message to your doctor and get a response back pretty quickly,” Dr. Anderson said.
Chances are you aren’t seeing just one doctor though, so make sure the doctors you see use the same EHR system.
“If you are seeing another provider or specialist, particularly one outside of a health system or network, ask how your patient information will be shared with your primary care doctor,” he said. “Some specialists don’t utilize the same EHR systems, which means some health information might not get from one doctor to another. It may require that you give special permissions to share.”
2. You can refill prescriptions
While your doctor’s office may have “office hours,” your EHR is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If you reach for your prescription and see that you only have one pill left, no problem. You can easily go through your portal and ask your doctor’s office for a prescription refill for the next day.
3. You can look up your health status
Did you know that you have a right to your health records? If you are applying for a job, camp or need records for school or college, your records are right there for you. You can access your medical history, diagnoses, medications, treatment plan, immunizations and labwork all within one portal—and without having to call the office.
4. You can get labwork and imaging results
From time to time, you may be required to get labwork or medical imaging. In the past, you’d often have to wait for your doctor to call you with the results. Nowadays, most lab and imaging centers send results to the doctor and the patient. While it’s great to have immediate access to the results, Dr. Anderson did share this advice.
“It’s not unusual for patients to get results now before they speak with their doctor, but I caution reviewing and making any assumptions” Dr. Anderson said. “The doctor may be going through their day and seeing patients before they have a chance to call. Some results can vary from patient to patient, so your doctor can help you have a clearer picture of what the results mean.”
5. You can update family history and make other changes
Like anything in life, things can change—even with your family history. If someone in your family is diagnosed with heart disease or cancer, this may change your risk factors. Say you’ve started taking certain supplements or vitamins, you’ll want to let your doctor know, so they have a clearer picture of your overall medical plan. You can make these changes on your own within the portal.
To explore more benefits and some helpful tips about your EHR, visit the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
Looking for a new primary care provider? You don’t have to look far. Visit bannerhealth.com and a Banner Health specialist near you.