Redwood Family Practice Goes Electronic
The latest thing with medical providers seems to be switching everything to computers. They use another word for it which escapes me right now. UCSF was the first one I saw go through the transition. Now they have it up and running through their MyChart.org page.
They post all your lab results there for your perusal. Even when the wife gets blood work done here at Eureka Internal Medicine they share the results with UCSF via DSL and within an hour or two of getting a blood test we get an e-mail from UCSF saying her records have been updated. Then you can go see your lab results.
Kinda neat, although I'm not sure how much real use it is to patients. The layman often doesn't know what the results mean and the doctor goes through it with you in the office, anyway.
UCSF does have an application up that I originally thought was for making appointments. After asking at UCSF about it, though, I came to find out it just notified them you wanted an appointment and they were supposed to call you on the phone to set it up. I tried it, anyway, just to see if it worked. They never called.
So I went to see Doctor Ladika at Redwood Family Practice in Eureka on Friday. Not long ago they switched to electronic records, just as UCSF did. The doctor comes in and sits at the computer typing while talking to you. Good thing about is it only takes a click on the computer to send in a prescription request or check past records. Probably better than shuffling through papers. The bad part remains to be seen.
When I got home I found an e-mail in my Inbox advising me of their own Patient Portal page. They never mentioned it while I was there.
They supplied a link to the page as well as a password so I went and logged in. They have a page where you can see a history of past appointments as well as a reminder of your next one. In your personal information you pick your pharmacy of choice from a long statewide list of pharmacies. I presume that interacts with the doctor's computer so she knows where to send medication requests.
So I chose Rite Aid pharmacy on Harris in Eureka, then used their Contact form to see if it worked. I just sent an e-mail saying "This is just a test to see if this works".
In probably less than half an hour I received a phone call from them. The guy on the other end was the go- to guy for the web page. He told me he got the test message but wanted to know what else I did as he also got some notice I'd changed my personal info. It was new to him, too. I told him it was just me choosing my pharmacy. He was trying to figure out how it worked, too.
We had a fun chat as he was trying to figure out what meant what. I did mention that I didn't see any way to make appointments. He said that was kinda intentional because it might cause more problems than it solved, having people make appointments online. No biggie to me. It takes a minute or so to make or change an appointment by phone with Redwood Family Practice. Not so with UCSF.
He told me he sent me an e-mail to confirm he got my test. I went back and didn't see it at first. Then I found it and went to reply to him saying I got his confirmation. I noticed there's no Reply option in the e-mail system. I started a new message telling him in might be nice to have a Reply function. Otherwise you have to start a new message.
Overall, kinda neat and fun, although I don't know how much practical value there is in these E systems. I did tell the guy at Redwood Family, as I told the folks at UCSF, there's going to be hell to pay if the system breaks down because of power problems or a supervirus. They seem comforted that everything is backed up. Not so, myself.