The quality of medical care in this country may have many faults, but I’ve been impressed in one small area, how technology has improved our ability to communicate with our health providers. It wasn’t too long ago when my doctor would take notes on a yellow pad while examining me and asking questions.
It was always difficult to reach your provider, needing to leave a message and wait for a call back, often a few days later. For reasons of privacy, doctors rarely used email. But now many health providers are using technology. My doctor sits in front of a computer screen and can see all of my history and record his notes. New medical care apps and websites let you ask questions, request appointments, and renew prescriptions.
One of the biggest improvements is getting the results of routine blood tests just hours after the blodod was drawn. No waiting for days for the doctor to call you with the results. Of course, if the results show issues, it still may be days before you can speak. Recently, blood was drawn at 10 am and by 7pm the results were back. Not only can you see your results, but with a single click you can your history for the past decade of each reading.
But in spite of using new technology, the biggest fail points are still human. I’ve dropped off insurance forms for the doctor to sign and they’ve gotten lost. Or when we couldn’t get an appointment with our doctor for a minor emergency, his assistance gave us an address of one of their walk-in clinics that had closed months earlier.
And recently a friend had a cataract operation, and while the operation used some of the most advanced automatic equipment, the surgeon used a marker to put her initials on his eye before he was wheeled into the operating room. I jokingly suggested it should have been a QR code. Sometimes a human is needed.
One of the issues with these new apps and electronic medical systems is their inability to operate across other systems. Perhaps that’s intentional so you will stay in the same hospital network. I’ve found a tendency for my provider to only recommend other sin their network. In a couple of occasions I did my own research and found a specialist that used. I realized you always need to take responsibility for your care and do your own research.
When I recently needed to get some shots for an upcoming trip, I was sent to my pharmacy as, my health provider noted it was free. and I could avoid a payment. When I was asked for my previous shots in the same category I was able to open my app and show a list of my vaccines for the past 10 year. But then I needed to email my doctor info on this latest shot, otherwise there would be no record.