eHealth is a growing trend in medicine- many doctors and hospitals are making patient records available electronically, allowing patients to log in to “health portals” to see their own records. In addition to the convenience these services provide, other benefits include better quality and more efficient health care, increased privacy and security of health information, reduction of paperwork through administrative simplification, and better patient involvement- all of which are expected to help decrease healthcare costs.
My own doctor has a patient portal available. On my computer and smartphone (yes, there’s an app for that, too!) I can login to check my medical records – see the medications and dosages I’ve been prescribed, see notes from all my visits, see lab results, scheduled appointments, and even send messages to my doctor. The health portal also includes built-in patient trackers- if your doctor has asked you to track things like your blood pressure or blood sugar at home, you can have your results sent right to your doctor in real time!
I think that’s one of the greatest benefits of eHealth: getting patients more involved in their own care. Often times, a visit to your doctor’s office is a blur and it’s hard to remember all the instructions given, discharge papers get lost in the shuffle, or you can’t remember the name of that antibiotic you took last year that you had a bad reaction to. Patient portals let you review all of that information and also let you share more information with your doctor. If you forget to mention something at an appointment that you had meant to tell your doctor, send them a message! So much easier than trying to remember it for your next visit!
A World Health Organisation (WHO) study has shown that deploying eHealth technologies improves health behaviors and physiological outcomes: in one prenatal program in Sao Paulo, the proportion of pregnant women who completed their scheduled prenatal visits increased from 10% to 80% after the implementation of an eHealth program and health outcomes across several conditions saw a large improvement.
Doctors aren’t the only resources for eHealth. The library also has resources to help you manage your health care. Visit the NCLive Health and Wellness Information Center to access health eBooks, health databases, and other health resources.
Other Online Resources
MedlinePlus – this service from the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health provides information about health topics, drugs and supplements, and interactive tools and health tutorials.
Mayo Clinic – find articles on diseases, symptoms, medical procedures and much more! Their healthy lifestyle section offers articles on nutrition, fitness, and health, as well as access to healthy recipes.
National Institute of Mental Health – provides information and resources for a variety of mental health conditions.
North Carolina Medical Board Consumer Resources – offers information about health providers and resources for filing complaints.
Information is always great- but remember that no website on the internet can diagnose or treat you or your health conditions. Use what you learn on your own to open a dialogue with your doctor so that he or she can address your concerns while offering you the benefits of their expertise and diagnostic tools. You and your doctor, working together, can more positively affect your health and well-being.