Some of us remember the evening TV doctor shows like Dr. Kildare with his awesome looks and great bed-side manner; he stayed by our side for at least 30 minutes and made us feel safe and secure. Others (me included) remember when the doctor made house calls including that very evening when your mom called and said you had a high fever and cough. Next was the need for you to see all of the physician’s board certifications and diplomas on their walls. Does my doctor have special credentials for endocrinology, cardiology, orthopedics, etc.? The more they were specialized, the better they were. As the health care system evolves these luxuries seem far away and mostly non-existent.
Research tells us that another new and important quality of your physician and his practice is to be connected and well versed in technology. Technology can help them become a better practitioner in multiple ways.
What to look for:
- Does the office use paper charts or electronic records? Are they at least trying to make changes to switch to electronic records?
In the Journal of General Internal Medicine, a research paper was published that states physicians who use electronic records report fewer errors in treatment, more accurate follow-up and improved overall patient care and contact. Electronic records make retrieving past information much more stream lined. For example, if you had a question about a previous test result so that you could compare them it would be much easier for you and the provider to pull that information. Medical histories and physicals, charted notes, blood work and test results are much more secure in an electronic record or digital file. The doctor can notify medication updates from recent studies to multiple patients in decreased time and with less effort than on paper charts. Up to one-third of health care providers already utilize the electronic health record format and it will soon become mandatory.
- Can the doctor be reached by E mail?
Complicated questions and concerns should always be addressed by a phone call or even a visit but certain direct information could be obtained by Email. If blood results are all within normal limits and no discussion is needed then Email may be a great alternative. Setting up appointments by Email could save a lot of patient phone time. We have all sat on an automated phone prompt and waited through 6 prompts to finally get voice mail. Then we wait hours to get a return phone call just to get an answer or make an appointment. For simple recommendations or suggestions like OTC remedies, Email would be perfect. Also sending blood glucose readings for the week could be sent by Email with a quick physician response if they were well controlled.
- Does your doctor use “e-prescribe”?
We are all aware that for some reason many doctors have poor hand writing. The pharmacist may miss read the actual prescription and fill the wrong medication or the wrong dose and you may not realize it until you get home. 50% of MD’s now use a program that lets them transmit electronically the scripts to the pharmacy. According to the study in The Journal of General Internal Medicine using e prescribing encourages more consistent care and better patient results. It also helps patients with chronic conditions like diabetes stay up to date with their medication refills and prescription renewals.
Your relationship with your health care provider is extremely important to your over all care. Keeping your information safe, secure and accurate is a terrific benefit to you both!
NOTE: Consult your Doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.