Five reasons you will like your new electronic health record
You are now able to have all of your health information in the palm of your hand, as Cape Cod Healthcare went live with a new electronic health records system (EHR) on November 1. The new MyChart patient portal has an app for your phone, which means that you can manage care for yourself and your family whether you are on Cape or on vacation. It is quick, easy to use and offers real health benefits.
If you’re wondering which features of MyChart you may use most frequently, we asked Kimberly Bell, the MyChart Patient Experience Application Services Manager at Epic, which designed the EHR, the top five things patients search for. Here are her answers in the order of usage.
Appointments: Patients can schedule both in-person and video primary care appointments from the portal with select clinical care providers*. They can also review their previous appointments to see their doctor visit summaries and any notes their doctor made. Appointment reminders are sent via email .
“The other beautiful thing is they can check-in online prior to their appointment, which means they can fill out any pre-visit questionnaires that they might previously have done on a clipboard,” Bell said. “They can pay copays for their appointments online and then they can also verify that their medication list is still up to date or make any updates. So, it really saves a lot of time that used to be spent in the waiting room.”
Messages: Instead of using email, which is not secure or confidential, MyChart has a secure method of messaging your healthcare provider. You can ask questions and even attach an image of a concern like a rash or an injury that you would like your doctor to look at. Providers are expected to respond within two days at the latest.
“The real benefit is not only to patients, because it’s very easy to type up a little message, but also to your providers because we really see reduced phone calls with this messaging approach,” Bell said. “With the old-fashioned way of calling your doctor, you might be put on hold or end up playing phone tag. This is great because you don’t have to deal with any of that.”
Test Results: As soon as your test results are finalized by the lab, they will be available for you to view in MyChart. The results of certain tests, like the swab for strep throat, will be available almost immediately and other tests could be available later in the same day.
“We are seeing a huge shift right now, across the country really, towards sharing test results, as soon as possible,” Bell said. “We really want to share as much as possible with patients so there aren’t any delays in care. Now you don’t have to wait for that phone call or letter. It goes right to your portal.”
The other benefit of MyChart is that it shows you not only your own test numbers but also the normal ranges for different lab tests. There will also be graphs of your test data over time so you can track how well you are doing. There is also an education element baked right into the test results page where you can click on a link to that will take you to the National Library of Medicine to learn a bit more about a given test.
Medication: In the medication section of MyChart, you can view your list of medications and request that updates are made to your chart if you start to take a new medication that you either bought over the counter or that was prescribed by a doctor outside of the Cape Cod Healthcare system.
“If you started taking something on your own, it will show up in your chart for your next visit for your provider to discuss with you and potentially add it into your medical chart,” Bell said. “You can also request refills from within MyChart, which saves you having to make phone calls.”
Bill Pay: “You can both view your medical bills from Cape Cod Healthcare as well as pay either the full amount or a partial amount,” Bell said. “Epic also has the ability to set up payment plans so if you have a large bill, especially for a surgery, you can set up a payment plan.”
You can also track all of your bills over time and view your previous statements. That gives you an easy-to-access record of medical bills, if you need that information for your taxes or to figure out a budget.
“There are a lot of things you can do with MyChart,” Bell said. “I always like to tell people we’ve got patients of all ages using MyChart to manage different aspects of their healthcare, whether it’s to schedule an appointment or to pay a bill for kid or request a refill. All of that is available from within one portal both for inpatient stays and outpatient visits. So, whether you are seen at Cape Cod Hospital or a clinic or your primary care office - all of it is right there in one place.”
*self-scheduling is available with select providers with more to be added over the next several months