[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.
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.
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).
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?”.