Sunday, December 2, 2018

Patient Portals

Back in my day, when I was first testing for Cushing's in 2007, there were no online patient portals. It would take two to three weeks for the results from simple blood tests to come in, so said the doctors and staff. 

Determined not to wait until medical staff called me with results, I bought a fax machine and a second phone line. I wrote my own 800 fax number on the lab requisition in the CC place. I told the labs it was my pcp doctor. They believed me and duly entered that number into their system. 

I would get my results via fax at the same time the ordering physician did. No additional waiting.

How did I know what the results meant? I made it my business to learn it all. Lab Tests Online  is the best resource I've found that gives simple yet thorough descriptions of the test, the reasons doctors order that test, and most importantly, what high or low results mean. 

I soon realized that doctors and staff tell us results take much longer to come in because they are building in the time it takes for the doctor to review each person's lab work and pass along next steps to their staff: call patient and schedule a follow up, add or change medication, refer to specialist, etc. Then we waited for that staffer to make it through those calls to the patients, adding days of waiting. 

Be thankful that we have patient portals now, and many times, we only have to wait 48 hours after results are released to the doctor before they are automatically released to us.