Communicating Digitally With Your Health Care Provider

Posted Jun 22, 2016

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Summary

  • Patient portals and e-visits help people connect with their doctors digitally.
  • Digital health tools and apps help people better manage their health conditions.

The ways of connecting with your doctor are expanding. The old way of calling to make an appointment or to renew a prescription still exist. More and more though, patients are connecting with their health care providers digitally. Some of these methods include email, text, video, and the use of a patient portal.

Patient portals

The term may sound daunting, but a patient portal is simply a secure website. It allows for safe interaction between a patient and a doctor. Some of the benefits many of these portals offer include:

  • 24/7 access
  • Setup and reminder of appointments
  • Prescription refill requests
  • Viewing of lab results
  • Access to medical records
  • Answers to medical questions
  • Monitoring tools
  • Health care info
  • Health insurance info
  • Bill payment
  • E-visits

E-visits

Some patient portals offer e-visits for non-urgent care. E-visits are electronic exchanges with your doctor that consist of email, text, or video. Sometimes they may take the place of coming into the office for a follow-up. Ask your doctor about whether or not these are offered.

Digital health tools

Digital health tools can be used to track health issues. They include a wide range of technologies. Everything from a heart monitor to your own smartphone may be thought of as a digital health tool. Some of these tools can be found through the patient portal website. There are also thousands of health apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone.

Digital health apps provide easy ways for patients to track things like diet and fitness plans. There are also apps designed to help patients manage certain health issues, such as diabetes. You can download apps that check blood pressure and blood sugar levels, for instance. Read reviews and ratings of such apps first or ask your doctor for suggestions.

Connecting with your doctor

The goal of digital health tools is not to replace time spent with your doctor. In fact, you will wind up spending more time connecting with your doctor. You can even use these digital connections to list the things you want to discuss at your next office visit. The goal is to make you better informed and to improve your health. Using e-visits and patient portals will only enhance your relations with your health care provider.

Keep in mind, however, that your doctor and staff are busy. Therefore, it is best to keep your messages short and to the point. Focus on just one main question or issue per email or text. Be polite and respectful. Allow time for your health provider to respond. You should get a response for an appointment or refill request quickly. More complex questions or requests could take up to a few business days. If you feel you are not getting an answer in a timely manner you can call the office. Do not use e-visits, patient portals, or any other digital health tools for urgent issues.

Securing your privacy

You may be worried about the security of your digital exchanges. Your health care provider will have taken measures to protect your information. Passwords, firewalls, and scrambling software will help keep it private. It is also covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. To find out more click here.

Resource

“Five Questions You Can Ask Your Doctor about Digital Health,” Federal Communications Commission

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Attorney General's Office/California Department of Justice, www.ohi.ca.gov/calohi/download550-Guide for providers - Patient brochure.pdf; Federal Communications Commission, https://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/c2health/c2h-things-to-ask-your-doctor-about-digital-health-tipsheet.pdf; Consumer Reports, www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/01/the-doctor-will-email-you-now/index.htm; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/privacy-security-electronic-records.pdf
Reviewed by Lauren Kelbus, LCPC, Clinical Care Manager, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Patient portals and e-visits help people connect with their doctors digitally.
  • Digital health tools and apps help people better manage their health conditions.

The ways of connecting with your doctor are expanding. The old way of calling to make an appointment or to renew a prescription still exist. More and more though, patients are connecting with their health care providers digitally. Some of these methods include email, text, video, and the use of a patient portal.

Patient portals

The term may sound daunting, but a patient portal is simply a secure website. It allows for safe interaction between a patient and a doctor. Some of the benefits many of these portals offer include:

  • 24/7 access
  • Setup and reminder of appointments
  • Prescription refill requests
  • Viewing of lab results
  • Access to medical records
  • Answers to medical questions
  • Monitoring tools
  • Health care info
  • Health insurance info
  • Bill payment
  • E-visits

E-visits

Some patient portals offer e-visits for non-urgent care. E-visits are electronic exchanges with your doctor that consist of email, text, or video. Sometimes they may take the place of coming into the office for a follow-up. Ask your doctor about whether or not these are offered.

Digital health tools

Digital health tools can be used to track health issues. They include a wide range of technologies. Everything from a heart monitor to your own smartphone may be thought of as a digital health tool. Some of these tools can be found through the patient portal website. There are also thousands of health apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone.

Digital health apps provide easy ways for patients to track things like diet and fitness plans. There are also apps designed to help patients manage certain health issues, such as diabetes. You can download apps that check blood pressure and blood sugar levels, for instance. Read reviews and ratings of such apps first or ask your doctor for suggestions.

Connecting with your doctor

The goal of digital health tools is not to replace time spent with your doctor. In fact, you will wind up spending more time connecting with your doctor. You can even use these digital connections to list the things you want to discuss at your next office visit. The goal is to make you better informed and to improve your health. Using e-visits and patient portals will only enhance your relations with your health care provider.

Keep in mind, however, that your doctor and staff are busy. Therefore, it is best to keep your messages short and to the point. Focus on just one main question or issue per email or text. Be polite and respectful. Allow time for your health provider to respond. You should get a response for an appointment or refill request quickly. More complex questions or requests could take up to a few business days. If you feel you are not getting an answer in a timely manner you can call the office. Do not use e-visits, patient portals, or any other digital health tools for urgent issues.

Securing your privacy

You may be worried about the security of your digital exchanges. Your health care provider will have taken measures to protect your information. Passwords, firewalls, and scrambling software will help keep it private. It is also covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. To find out more click here.

Resource

“Five Questions You Can Ask Your Doctor about Digital Health,” Federal Communications Commission

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Attorney General's Office/California Department of Justice, www.ohi.ca.gov/calohi/download550-Guide for providers - Patient brochure.pdf; Federal Communications Commission, https://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/c2health/c2h-things-to-ask-your-doctor-about-digital-health-tipsheet.pdf; Consumer Reports, www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/01/the-doctor-will-email-you-now/index.htm; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/privacy-security-electronic-records.pdf
Reviewed by Lauren Kelbus, LCPC, Clinical Care Manager, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Patient portals and e-visits help people connect with their doctors digitally.
  • Digital health tools and apps help people better manage their health conditions.

The ways of connecting with your doctor are expanding. The old way of calling to make an appointment or to renew a prescription still exist. More and more though, patients are connecting with their health care providers digitally. Some of these methods include email, text, video, and the use of a patient portal.

Patient portals

The term may sound daunting, but a patient portal is simply a secure website. It allows for safe interaction between a patient and a doctor. Some of the benefits many of these portals offer include:

  • 24/7 access
  • Setup and reminder of appointments
  • Prescription refill requests
  • Viewing of lab results
  • Access to medical records
  • Answers to medical questions
  • Monitoring tools
  • Health care info
  • Health insurance info
  • Bill payment
  • E-visits

E-visits

Some patient portals offer e-visits for non-urgent care. E-visits are electronic exchanges with your doctor that consist of email, text, or video. Sometimes they may take the place of coming into the office for a follow-up. Ask your doctor about whether or not these are offered.

Digital health tools

Digital health tools can be used to track health issues. They include a wide range of technologies. Everything from a heart monitor to your own smartphone may be thought of as a digital health tool. Some of these tools can be found through the patient portal website. There are also thousands of health apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone.

Digital health apps provide easy ways for patients to track things like diet and fitness plans. There are also apps designed to help patients manage certain health issues, such as diabetes. You can download apps that check blood pressure and blood sugar levels, for instance. Read reviews and ratings of such apps first or ask your doctor for suggestions.

Connecting with your doctor

The goal of digital health tools is not to replace time spent with your doctor. In fact, you will wind up spending more time connecting with your doctor. You can even use these digital connections to list the things you want to discuss at your next office visit. The goal is to make you better informed and to improve your health. Using e-visits and patient portals will only enhance your relations with your health care provider.

Keep in mind, however, that your doctor and staff are busy. Therefore, it is best to keep your messages short and to the point. Focus on just one main question or issue per email or text. Be polite and respectful. Allow time for your health provider to respond. You should get a response for an appointment or refill request quickly. More complex questions or requests could take up to a few business days. If you feel you are not getting an answer in a timely manner you can call the office. Do not use e-visits, patient portals, or any other digital health tools for urgent issues.

Securing your privacy

You may be worried about the security of your digital exchanges. Your health care provider will have taken measures to protect your information. Passwords, firewalls, and scrambling software will help keep it private. It is also covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. To find out more click here.

Resource

“Five Questions You Can Ask Your Doctor about Digital Health,” Federal Communications Commission

By Kevin Rizzo
Source: Attorney General's Office/California Department of Justice, www.ohi.ca.gov/calohi/download550-Guide for providers - Patient brochure.pdf; Federal Communications Commission, https://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/c2health/c2h-things-to-ask-your-doctor-about-digital-health-tipsheet.pdf; Consumer Reports, www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/01/the-doctor-will-email-you-now/index.htm; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/privacy-security-electronic-records.pdf
Reviewed by Lauren Kelbus, LCPC, Clinical Care Manager, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical or health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider. ©2016 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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