It seems appropriate on Valentine’s Day to write love letters. This is my letter of adoration to Meaningful Use. In the past, I have written about how much time and productivity is wasted in the average physician’s office handling phone calls about prescription refills. My physician’s office has successfully implemented their EMR software, and the patient portal is very, very handy for all of the right reasons. I could wax poetic about the ease of checking on appointments and reviewing lab results. The source of my real happiness is the ease of asking for refills and having the ability to route the request to the right pharmacy. It was love at first click.
Instead of calling the doctor, waiting on hold to talk to the nurse, fretting about getting the medication name and dosage right for the refill, it was magic. I signed into the patient portal in a secure fashion, clicked on medication refills, and there was a correct list of my medications! I selected the ones I needed refilled including a suggested number of days like 30 or 90, selected the pharmacy of my choice and Voila! Several hours later, I received an email confirmation from the pharmacy that they were processing my order. Now honestly, I didn’t have to see what went on behind the curtain in the doctor’s office to review my request, but I’m sure they like the elimination of potential communication errors on medications, too.
My doctor has shared with me about the financial burden of casting out his first EMR investment and starting over with a better EMR software. I have to say that from my point of view, he clearly chose the right one and it actually fulfills the basic tenets of Meaningful Use, particularly from the patient’s point of view. I plan to share my enthusiasm for the patient portal with him including the secure messaging that allowed me tell him that his changes in my medications worked and improved my quality of life. This secure messaging was another plus for productivity, and patient satisfaction, because those positive responses got lost in the challenges of telephone communication in the past.
Like a lot of relationships, alas, things are not perfect. The EMR and patient portal have a mobile application that is still very basic. It gets high marks for security, but lacks the medication refill capability of the patient portal. I would venture a guess that it will be there eventually, but it brings to mind the challenges of screen real estate on a typical web browser on a laptop versus a mobile phone. Nevertheless, love can overlook some imperfections.
In a period when our government is making these big investments in electronic medical records and expecting Meaningful Use to be demonstrated in return, it’s time to send out some positive news: keep the faith and push forward because the healthcare consumer will benefit. I know that simplifying the ordering of refills seems like a small thing in the course of things, but if it saves time, productivity and especially errors, then it is a big deal. Thanks to my physician, who re-invested and made the commitment to real Meaningful Use. Here’s your love letter!
P.S. — No personal healthcare information (PHI) was harmed in the making of this blog. If you are curious about which EMR software is so terrific, stop by our booth #2035 at HIMSS, and I will whisper it in your ear. HIMSS 2014 is going to be a great event!