Reading my EHR as a way to prepare

[Warning for oversharing – this post will contain details from my electronic health record]

I’m waiting for my primary care center to call me back, and while I’m waiting I log into my online electronic health record. It’s always good to be prepared. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll probably write about it again because I think it’s such an important topic. Whether access to ones own medical record is important, useful, or even harmful, is often debated, and therefore I want to share when and how I use my own medical record. I don’t log in daily, but when I need it, it’s great!

This is what I see once I’ve gone through all the warning texts (!) and check boxes that state that I know what I’m doing (!!). It’s all in Swedish of course, but I’m sure you get the idea.

journalen 1

Overview of my access to my electronic health record

In the menu, I have access to Notes, Diagnosis, Medications, Maternity care (which is documented in a separate record), Lab results, Referrals, Warnings and Vaccinations. As an overview, I also have a time line which I can filter based on which individual healthcare professional wrote it, the health care center/unit, type of information, and date.

Journalen Timeline

The time line in my electronic health record.

In the image above, I’ve filtered on my primary care center, and today I logged in to see what date it was I contacted them previously (since this is often something you’re asked when contacting healthcare again in the same issue). Since I met with a physician I’d never met before on my visit the 22nd of February, I also wanted to know her name so I could refer to that meeting. So I opened the note and found her name (I’ve replaced it with dr X in the image below – not sure she’d appreciate my oversharing, and I’ve also deleted part of the note that contains information about my family).

Journalen anteckning

A note in my electronic health record.

It’s quite useful to be able to access this practical information regarding my healthcare. I hate feeling unprepared and uncertain going into (any) meeting, and by being able to read up on what was said last time I know I can answer questions with more detail.

Another reason why I like reading the notes, is because that tells me how much the person I’m talking to can possibly know about my case and what I may need to fill in. Not everything that is said during healthcare encounters is documented in the electronic health record, and propably shouldn’t be either – but when you don’t have access to the record it’s impossible to tell what has been documented and what hasn’t. So as a patient without access, I can make assumptions that the healthcare professionals I talk to know everything that was discussed at the last encounter and then I don’t repeat it. Such assumptions can be dangerous. Now that I know what is in the record – I also know what is NOT there, and I can take measures accordingly.

What’s harder to tell is of course whether the healthcare professional I’m talking to has had time to actually read my record or not. I may have to start each meeting by asking that; “Have you read my record, and if so – do you have any questions based on that?”.

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This entry was posted in Consumer Health Informatics, Patient experience and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Reading my EHR as a way to prepare

  1. Pingback: Transparency and behavioral change | Participatory eHealth

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