Giving Thanks for Health IT Advances

With the week of Thanksgiving upon us, it is time to reflect on what we’re thankful for. One of the most important things to be thankful for is our health and the health of the important people in our lives. The recent healthcare transformation has led to many key changes in how we participate in and receive healthcare. Having access to our own health records through patient portals has been one of those. While there’s still a lot of work to do, many patients are thankful for what they have done to improve their care.

A couple of weeks ago, a patient named Carolyn from Tuscaloosa, Alabama was so thrilled with her doctors’ patient portals that she published a letter about it in the Tuscaloosa News. She talks about how access to her medical records and MRI and DEXA scan results led her to ask her doctor about a potential diagnosis of osteoporosis. She goes on to say “While doctors and patients have a daunting task to catch up to the technological advances and costs, I see an improving health care system in the works.”

Dr. Michael P. Angelillo can appreciate portals from a patient perspective as well as from a physician’s perspective. He is grateful that he put his own medical information online in the “cloud” as this act actually saved his life. When he was in a life-threatening situation where fluid was filling his lungs and he couldn’t speak, his medical records spoke for him. Paramedics were able to access his encrypted medical files from their laptop where they read that a virus had recently infected his heart. They rushed him to the hospital where surgeons performed emergency surgery. “Surgery saved me,” said Dr. Angelillo.

While other stories may be less serious, patients are thankful for having access to their own health information which can help them better navigate through their health issues. Richard deBronkart, widely known as e-Patient Dave, is a cancer patient and blogger who sent out a request to patients to send in comments about where “patient engagement in the chart made a difference.” One NYU patient who responded to his request for more stories states “As someone with a super rare longterm condition that will require lifelong care, I cannot tell you how invaluable this is. And the number of times I have ‘caught’ things that my doctor did not is a very large number. Whether or not I like my doctors… I will stay in this system until it is replicated everywhere.”

We too have received many comments through Navigating Cancer surveys from patients who express gratitude for their clinics’ portals. Here are a couple of them:

“I think it is so important what you are doing here with this website. I am glad my clinic has this. It makes me feel better to have this when I don’t feel well to call my doctor.” -Patient from April 2014 survey

“I was able to see my blood test quicker. Any information on my condition is important and the quicker the better. Waiting for results is so stressful.” -Patient from March 2013 survey

When facing health problems or concerns it can be hard to maintain a positive attitude, but we should all be thankful for the positive changes in healthcare that have occurred in the past decade to help ease some of the anxiety and help us feel more in control of our own health.

What healthcare advances are you thankful for? Please share your stories by emailing Navigating Cancer here.

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