Let’s get digital: Make electronic health records work for you

Let’s get digital: Make electronic health records work for you

Chances are good your doctor has ditched the paper files and switched over to electronic health records (EHR). The use of digital records is becoming more and more commonplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 80 percent of doctors’ offices were using electronic records in 2013, and it’s no wonder. Electronic health records help reduce paperwork and allow doctors to better access your health history and coordinate your care.

But digital records don’t just benefit your healthcare providers. They also help you better manage your own health, and that of your family’s.

Signing up to access your digital records online takes only a few minutes, and is worth the effort. Ask your doctor’s office for the log-in information you need to get started. Then take a look at these five ways to take advantage of your EHRs.

1. Get reminders. When was your last tetanus shot? Have you paid that dermatology bill? Check the preferences on your EHR digital dashboard to sign up for notifications on new test results, billing and payment reminders, preventive care reminders and upcoming appointments.

2. Ask questions. Concerned about your new prescription? Need follow-up information after an office visit? Instead of waiting on hold on the phone, you can submit questions to your doctor or nurse right through the EHR system, and often get answers the same day.

3. Fill prescriptions. You don’t have to keep playing middleman between your doctor and your pharmacy. Submit refill requests for medications through your EHR dashboard, and get an e-mail when they’re ready for pickup.

4. Keep tabs. If you start seeing a new doctor or specialist, you can instantly pull up your EHR to share your health history. You’ll easily be able to list the names and dosages of your medications, helping you avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. And EHRs make it easy to let your doctors know what tests other providers have performed, helping you avoid costly duplications.

5. Track trends. EHRs let you look back to see how your test results and vital signs have changed over time. For example, you can track how your weight, blood pressure or cholesterol levels have changed in recent years. Many EHR platforms offer options to graph this data to see at a glance how your stats have evolved.

If you are a patient at UCLA Health, you can access your online health information by visiting myUCLAhealth.

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