Monday, February 8, 2010

Melissa Young, MD: More on the patient portal

So just when I was about to give up on the whole patient portal thing (see last week’s blog entry), a patient decides he wants to sign up.

You know that foreign language class you took in high school, after which you could sort of carry on a slowly spoken grammatically incorrect conversation? You know how you can now recognize certain words in that language but can’t put two words together?

Well, that’s how it was for us the first time a patient actually decided to plunk down his portal registration fee and sign the authorization form. Heck, our training was three months ago! We got as far as scanning in the form. Uh, now what? Some e-mail is supposed to be automatically generated, right? And then…?
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Before we could completely figure that out, two more patients signed up. We thought we had followed all the necessary steps, but something seemed to be missing. We called a patient to find out if she received an e-mail with her username and password. No. Hmmm.

We broke out the user manual. We went through the steps again. Ah-hah! We had missed a step, a click of the mouse. We rescanned the authorizations forms and clicked away. Ah-hah (again)! Now we got a window with the patient’s username and password. We must be in business now.

I checked the administrator’s account on the portal. Yup. There were three patients on there. I sent one a message. I didn’t hear back. I sent another. Still no answer. I have no way of knowing whether the messages went through. I have not received a “read receipt.” I’m a little embarrassed to call and say, “Hey, you know that thing you paid $25 for? Is it working?”

I like having an electronic medical record. I really do. I like having minimal amounts of paper sitting around the office. I am also one who enjoys e-communication in general. I e-mail, text, IM, Facebook, chat, and (obviously) blog. I would love a secure way to communicate with my patients. And apparently, some of my patients want to e-communicate with me. I just wish there was some way to verify what goes on in the ethereality that is the Internet.

1 comment:

  1. I would have allowed the first 10-20 patients sign up for free to test drive the portal and help you work out the kinks... I have had free (for now) email for the last 18 mos and am surprised how easy it is. I was hoping it wouldn't become too much of a burden instead has been a wonderful thing on both ends