Implementing EHR software and other health technology tools in the exam room may prove to be a burden for some medical providers, but patients certainly stand to benefit from the adoption of digital resources and medical apps. While physicians settle into the electronic charting routine, patients should familiarize themselves with the new resources changing patient care.
Electronic health records. If your doctor uses EHR software, it means you have an electronic health record containing your past and current medical history. This includes everything from demographic information and vital signs to diagnoses, medications, and test results. By opening the door to a wider range of health applications, medical devices, and patient monitoring software, EHR systems allow doctors to provide more comprehensive care.
Personal health records. In contrast to EHRs, which are maintained by healthcare providers, personal health records are computerized documents created and controlled by each patient. To give your doctors access to your compiled health information, you can give them permission to view your PHR online, print it from the website, or carry a copy of the record with you on a USB. Some PHR companies also provide medical apps for smartphones, allowing patients to access their health record on-the-go.
Patient portals. Online portals are secure websites that usually interface with a provider’s EHR software. As a patient, the portal is one of the tools that you will benefit most from directly. By logging into the online portal provided by your doctor, for example, you can typically request appointments, submit refill requests, send secure messages to your physician, and view lab results or visit summaries. If your doctor’s practice has an online portal, find out what you can use it for, and start taking advantage of the benefits.
Electronic prescribing. E-prescribing software allows doctors to write digital prescriptions and send them to a patient’s pharmacy electronically. E-prescriptions help reduce dosage errors and can prevent drug allergy interactions. Meanwhile, patients are more likely to take prescribed medications, since all they have to do is go to their pharmacy to pick up them up. Find out if your doctor e-prescribes and ask that your favorite – most convenient – pharmacy be added to your health record.
Telemedicine. Telemonitoring is a growing trend with larger healthcare organizations and can help reduce the cost of healthcare and prevent hospital readmissions. For patients who don’t necessarily need to be in the hospital, doctors can provide monitoring equipment to transmit data automatically to their EHR and identify early warning signs of a worsening condition. Check with your doctor about mobile applications that perform similar functions for monitoring things like vital signs and blood pressure.