Wednesday, November 28, 2018

My letter to a grant recipient at OSU

Today I noticed in OnCampusToday you’ve received a handsome grant of $2.27 million from NIH for “patient engagement.” Congratulations.  I’ve read through your publications, and you have had an impressive career. Although I don’t know what concept map to define capacity for engagement” means, I would like to comment on patient portals as a means to engage patients in their own care.

I hate them.

My husband has 2 doctors, 3 if you count the cancer specialist whom he rarely sees, and I have 3, family, ophthalmologist and cardiologist. We share the family doctor. Each practice uses a different portal system for finding our lab results, asking questions, tracking meds, etc.  But the worst feature is their sending us advertisements! I don’t know until I’ve made the effort to get in—not easy—why I’m being contacted. What a mess! Fortunately, I don’t think my ophthalmologist uses one, because he’s the one I see most frequently. When I ask him to send a record to my family doctor, he uses a fax.

Recently we received a notice from our financial advisor suggesting we have our own “portal” for his financial services, and I fired back, Absolutely Not. Face to face is always better. I’ve not had eye-contact with a doctor since Obama imposed the horribly expensive EMR system, which had never been tested for improved care or cost reduction. One of the Emanuel brothers just thought the tech industry needed a pay off. My medical records could be transported faster by carrier pigeons from Riverside Hospital to Dr. Jennifer Bush, 2 miles away. And I hold no hope that patient portals will improve my care, at least not the ones in use by any of our doctors.

And by the way, how secure are these portals? Who designs them to be unworkable? Are they more secure than large medical practice records? Two years ago my husband’s urologist’s practice was hacked, and thousands of records exposed with all the personal data that goes along with that.

I have 9 blogs, I’m on at least 4 e-mail discussion lists, I’m on Facebook, I read a lot of medical, political, technology and religious information web sites, and I’m a retired librarian (veterinary medicine) who formerly taught classes in data base searching and information skills.  I used to teach “older learners,” which is anyone over 25.   You need a system that is easy for 80 year olds or admit this technology does not have the capacity to engage.

Norma J. Bruce

OSU Libraries faculty, retired

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