All nurse practitioners have been there. A new patient presents to your clinic, let’s say for back pain. You ask about their medical history and ‘Wham’ they slam a giant notebook full of medical records dating back to 1983 on the exam table. “All of my MRI reports are in there”, they say “Just look at them and let me know what I need to do about my back”. All you can think about is the dried food (or bodily fluid?) that appears to be crusted on a few of the most visible pages.
You proceed to thumb through old receipts, X-Ray readings, MRI reports and 10-year-old lab work without making much progress. The most recent and pertinent health information is of course the last you discover. What if your patients could store their health records safely online keeping lab results, imaging studies and at-home readings organized and up-to-date (and crusties off their paperwork)?
Today I discovered a solution to this paperwork problem, Microsoft HealthVault. With HealthVault, patients can upload imaging reports, recent lab results, allergies, medication lists, immunizations, family medical history and even recent blood glucose and blood pressure readings. HealthVault stores this information in an easy to access online account. When a patient presents to your clinic they can avoid lugging around piles of papers and rather login to their HealthVault account to show providers their latest imaging studies. Or, if you prefer patients not use your clinic’s computers, they can easily print their latest medication lists or results directly from HealthVault which generates an easy to read, organized summary.
To test the user friendliness of this online resource, I set up my own HealthVault account. I was pleasantly surprised by the program. I was easily able to update my profile by adding in my recent Tetanus and Influenza vaccines as well as updating my family history (I did not input my height and weight to prevent creepy internet stalkers from being further able to identify me). By simply clicking the label ‘Immunizations’, the information I had just added immediately appeared in an easy-to-read format. With just one click I was able to print my medications and health an immunization history in a format any provider would be thrilled to receive. HealthVault will certainly prove an invaluable resource for patients and providers, especially in working with patients who have complex health histories.
I recommend you let your patients, especially those with paper-filled files, know about resources for storing health records online. It will make your life and theirs much easier.