Portal to Connection
“I still need to reschedule that dermatologist appointment!” I thought to myself, for probably the fifth time in the past few weeks. My annual skin check was scheduled for mid-March, and was canceled as the spread of COVID-19 changed office policies. I didn’t think about it for a while, but as cold and flu season approaches, it is something I would like to get done before another potential shut down. Yet the act of picking up the phone, finding the correct phone number, waiting on hold for what feels like forever, makes rescheduling a simple appointment a suddenly daunting task for which I feel I just don’t have the bandwidth.
Enter the patient portal
Typically accessible via a web browser or an app, I am able to easily and quickly log on to schedule an appointment with any of my providers. In fact, there are an array of features I can access via the patient portal. I can request a refill of any prescriptions I have. I can request referrals to other providers I may need to see. I can update my personal information if I move or any of my information changes. I can complete forms prior to an appointment, rather than racing to complete them in a waiting room. Or, I can just send a quick question or note to my provider in a safe and secure way.
In addition to communicating with your provider, using a patient portal can also empower you to be more engaged and knowledgeable about your own health. For example, through a portal, you can access test results or read visit summaries. This can be especially helpful if you feel overwhelmed during a visit and have difficulty remembering everything that happened. It may also help direct you if you need to follow up on something with your provider. Through your portal, you can also access your history including things like your immunization history or medication history, which can be helpful in a variety of ways.
Access your information any time
The other benefit to a portal? It is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is not unusual that individuals going through treatment find themselves awake at odd hours of the day, but you do not need to wait for business hours to access your information, or even to send along a question that has been on your mind. Although messaging capabilities may be available all the time, keep in mind that a portal should not be used for urgent or time-sensitive issues; a phone call would always be the best method to reach a provider in this case.
If you have questions about signing up for the portal offered by your provider, ask for help at your next visit or find out if someone can help you over the phone. Taking the time to learn how to access and use the portal will be worth it-- it will open a world of information and connection to you!
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