The Millennial Patient
I’m an “eighties baby” and, as such, I’m a millennial. I’m the internet child….born with a cell phone in one hand, an iPad in another, and a laptop in my lap. I no longer subscribe to letters because email is instant, and I don’t carry cash because its “safer” to use a debit card. In the age of hyperspeed, however, I still carry around an insurance card that grants me access to see a doctor, manually request my appointment notes, individually call to get lab results and patiently wait while a nurse fills out my patient history section of the chart.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate ALL the work that doctors, nurses and all of the clinical staff do to “cure me.” However, in times when I keep track of my finances online, re-connect with old friends online, purchase goods online and go to the movies, you guessed it…..online, it’s absolutely astounding how it’s still rare for me to be able to get my lab results at the click of a mouse, or make a doctor’s appointment using my internet browser. And while I love speaking to people directly (either face-to-face or over phone), let’s face it….I have a busy life (or so I’m told) and the doctor’s office is plenty busy already.
But Batman (you say), there must be a solution to this problem! Well, Robin, I wish the answer was simple, but sadly it’s not. Now I’ve had the pleasure of being insured by Kaiser Permanente in the past and I can’t say I wasn’t impressed by their level of dedication to educating their patients and providing maximal access to patient data. However….as soon as I left Kaiser for bigger (and sometimes better) things, my information lifeline was cut quite abruptly. All of my patient history, all of my lab results, all of my communications, everything…gone. And now that I have the pleasure of being in a health system where the Patient Portal is again a reality…I wonder…how long is THIS going to last?
This finally brings me to my point: patients need better access to their health records! Are you listening health care big wigs? It’s not enough to put up sites like choosemyplate.gov or nutrition.gov and expect us to extrapolate all of the data and try to apply it to whatever little information we have on our medical history. We need an integrated system that takes into account physical information, blood results, BP and heart rate, exercise history and trends…..do I need to go on (if I do, I’ll be reaching the impossible). Make patient health access a priority and I’ll even pay to access a service like that.