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Health information easy to access for everyone, including the elderly

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Having your health information at your finger tips in today’s world is now possible — and the technology to access it is senior citizen-friendly, according to hospital officials and one 81-year-old Brainerd man.

Dick Tull, who is a patient of Dr. Mark Gray, a family medicine physician at Essentia Health St.Joseph’-Brainerd Clinic, said he is not good on computers, but Essentia Health’s patient portal for electronic health record, titled MyHealth, is easy and helpful.

“If I can do it anyone my age can,” said Tull. “It’s pretty easy. I’m not the greatest at this technology stuff, but this new program works very well for me. It’s like the second thing I can do on the computer.”

All Essentia Health patients in the Brainerd lakes area have access to their medical records through MyHealth. Patients just need to have a user name and a password, and access to the Internet.

Patients can sign up at their doctor’s office, where they will receive an authorization form or they can log into and click “Request access now,” to complete the online form.

Miranda Anderson, marketing and community relations at Essentia, said MyHealth puts the power of information in the patients’ hands and actively engages them in their own health care. She said it provides patients with timely, electronic access to their health record.

“In an era of web portals and mobile applications, MyHealth is a market differentiator for Essentia Health with patients that use it expressing high degrees of satisfaction,” said Anderson.

Patients can look on MyHealth for: Viewing test results and upcoming and past appointments; refilling prescriptions, which is not available yet; scheduling appointments; messaging securely with their health care providers; viewing a child’s health record and print growth charts; reviewing and updating medications and allergies; and getting a chronic disease summary with reminders.

Tull said he looks at his medical records online “quite a bit,” especially if he has an appointment coming up.

“I monitor my blood sugar/insulin online and if it hasn’t been the greatest, I go back a couple years to look at my blood work,” said Tull. “It’s good to know where it’s at so I know if I have to make up excuses or not (to Dr. Gray.)”

Gray said patients who take advantage of MyHealth feel more engaged in their care.

“I have patients who look at their test results before I look at their results,” said Gray. “They are interested and concerned about it. The first thing patients want to know, (whether they have access to MyHealth or no) is their test results.”

Gray said additional tests also are reported on MyHealth, such as radiology procedures or pathology results, but they may not be immediately reported.

“Some tests are delayed for a few days to give providers time to review it,” said Gray.

Gray has 666 patients who use MyHealth which is approximately 36 percent of his patients. Essentia Health Clinics in the Brainerd lakes area have 13,466 patients who have signed-up to use MyHealth, or 27 percent of our patients who have a primary care physician or advance practice clinician with Essentia.

Gray said in a given 90-day period, about 8-9 percent of his patients will message him through MyHealth. Gray said patients can message photographs, such as a rash to help physicians determine how serious the medical condition would be and to offer any advice until their appointment.

Messaging is convenient for both the doctor and the patient, said Gray. Doctors wouldn’t have to interrupt a family’s dinner, for instance, and can message in-between their patient visits.

As for being convenient for senior citizens, Anderson said MyHealth is easy for patients of all ages to use. MyHealth is an easy program that makes it easy for patients in getting information, making an appointment and looking up test results and other health records.

Anderson said another advantage is that there are a lot of snow birds in the lakes area and no matter where the senior citizen is located — they will always have the Internet access to MyHealth.

“Having access to your medical records at all times is a nice peace of mind,” said Anderson. “It shows your updated medication list so when you travel you have it in case you need it.”

Anderson said MyHealth is one more tool to help strengthen a doctor and patient relationship, as communication is always open. MyHealth is a free program that is available 24 hours, seven days a week.

Anderson said MyHealth is confidential and secure, so people do not have to worry about others getting into their account. Anderson said MyHealth is not for urgent medical issues.