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I had a visit to the Dr.'s office yesterday for my shoulder which has been bothering me. It got to the point the day before where I couldn't type for a bit, so I called and got an appointment. It's been about a month since I pulled something shoveling snow (we are expecting another two inches this weekend ... great), and the pain had been tapering off but I was miserable yesterday.
My Doc has been using an EHR system created by the company I work for. When they first rolled the system out, he spent a good bit of time behind the computer, but now he's really gotten the swing of things. He spent most of his time with me, referring once or twice to his computer screen. Apparently I have a pinched nerve, so he prescribed Prednisone and 8 weeks of PT. He confirmed with my who my pharmacy was, and in less that 10 seconds, the prescription was done.
He rechecked my blood pressure which the nurse took twice. He noted that on one of his brief glances at the screen. It was very high all three times. It's been slowly creeping up and we are going to check it again in a week when I'm not in excruciating pain (from his lips to God's ears as my aunt would say).
I also got a referral to a specialist that I'm overdue to see. He was able to find the guy I saw 5 years ago in just a few seconds. Both the PT referral and the specialist referral he was able to print off in seconds. He's been giving me paper printouts routinely from each visit for years.
In parting, I was able to ask him a few questions about Meaningful Use. He a) knew what I was talking about, and b) knew where his practice stood. They are not there yet, but he knows that they will be shortly. They are getting ready to install a patient portal (I look forward to being able to schedule visits online), and they will soon have the ability to give me my data electronically. He was quite excited about that and other capabilities they will soon have.
His office is, as you can guess, already well on top of things. Meaningful Use didn't change where they were headed, but it will bring it about sooner. His competency with the technology is as it should be, it serves him, not the other way around. The other provider in that same office is one of the technology champions for the group, so it shouldn't be surprising that he gets it.
Now, the visit downstairs to what I hoped would be my PT was a completely different story. That had nothing to do with EHR and plenty more to do with the current payment system. She doesn't take my insurance, and so I'll have to find someone else close by.
One of most participatory services at the VA is secure email through the MyHealtheVet personal health record (PHR). I ask every patient if they have internet access, and if so to sign up for the PHR so they can contact me at their convenience. Most have access and use the PHR to refill meds, see test results and email me when needed. It's wonderful to resolve issues and answer questions - which come from far away when people travel. The farthest email was from Vietnam! I educate and support all the Portland VA primary care healthcare team members as well as Internal Medicine residents in their use of secure email. New. Medicine. Now. :-)