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Online health records

May 11, 2015
by Kathleen Mears
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Months ago I was asked what I thought about online healthcare portals. Although my sister uses them all the time to get test results from her physicians, I had never used one. At my March psychiatrist’s appointment, there was a notice posted regarding the office’s patient portal. I decided to get the paperwork to see how it worked.

Several sheets were stapled together. Since I need assistance to read multiple pages, I asked the activities office to scan the information to an e-mail. But the paperwork was returned to me without being scanned. Since I could see the first page, I decided to try it.

I called the doctor’s office, and staff e-mailed a link to the portal. I used it to go there and register. Immediately I tried to log in and could not. After several attempts at logging in, I called my doctor’s office and explained my problem. A staff member told me she would send a link to reset my password. I was advised that after resetting my password, I needed to wait for an e-mail and click through it for confirmation. Then I was able to log in.

My portal page had four tabs across the top and several underlined links on the left side. When I clicked on the one titled “medications,” I was moved lower on the page, where my medicines were listed without the dosages. My diagnoses were there as well as all my pertinent information.

Nothing appeared under “Doctor’s Notes.” I was surprised there was no information about past medicines I took, which were discontinued. On the positive side,  securevia a e-mail, I can contact my doctor’s office for “nonemergency questions.”

I wondered whether less information was listed because my doctor is a psychiatrist. I thought that perhaps sensitive information is not entered on the portal.

Since I wanted information about previous medications, I called my doctor’s office to get it. Surprisingly, staff had a difficult time answering my questions. I wondered whether they needed a signed medical release, but I was not asked to provide one.

Since I believe there should have been a more complete record for this physician, I have decided to keep records of each appointment with all the physicians I see—even my dentist. I will make notes, including any medication changes, at that appointment. Although I have always kept track of this information by memory, I have decided on a different system.

I have only been to the portal a couple of times. The other day, I realized I had not bookmarked the website or saved its address. So I had to search my e-mails to find it.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...