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Silver Surfing through the Portal
Rob Stewart
March 21, 2017

Here’s an article written about one of our patients and their experience with ManageMyHealth:

One of Health Care Home’s key aims is the improvement of access to care, and its practices actively promote the use of the patient portal. The target is for at least 40% of the registered population in any HCH practice to be actively using Manage My Health to communicate with their general practice.

A concern originally raised about the patient portals was that accessing care in this way would be something that only younger patients would be interested in doing. However, early reports suggest that it’s equally popular with older patients, and that it doesn’t do to generalise too much when it comes to older people and the digital age.

Sheila Mottram would certainly agree with this. A resident of a Kilbirnie retirement village for the last eight years, she is a huge fan of Manage My Health. ‘It’s a godsend,’ she enthuses, ‘Before I came here I’d always lived in Johnsonville, and had had for the previous 10 years a GP there – Dr. Simon Jordan - who I liked and totally trusted. Fortunately, he was happy for me to continue under him even after I moved to the other side of the city. So, for the past 8 years I’ve been travelling to Johnsonville when I need to see the doctor – normally only a couple of times a year, but still, it’s quite a journey. Two years ago, when I was visiting Johnsonville, one of the nurses said, “Look, we’re signing people up for Manage My Health – would you like to be a participant?” “Good idea,” I thought.’

The changes the portal have made to Sheila’s medical regime range from no longer having to spend time on the phone waiting to talk with a nurse, to being able to sort out her prescriptions online. ‘Now I don’t have to try to pronounce the names down the phone,’ she laughs, ‘I can just go online and go tick, tick, tick.’

‘I’m on my computer every day,’ she says, ‘If Simon needs to get in touch with me, say to give me the results of some tests, it’s there in my emails. Also, reminders for my regular blood tests are sent, as is a reminder for my annual flu vaccination. It also puts my mind at rest if I’m worried about things. For example, I’m just getting over a nasty bug that really floored me, and instead of having to trail across town every five minutes, I’ve been able to just flick an email to Simon and say, “Such and such is happening, should I come in?” And he can say yes or no. A visit to the docs is not cheap, and when you’re on a limited income you don’t want to be risking $50 here and there for something you don’t really need to do.’

Doctor Jordan thinks that this more direct communication can also help make things clearer for both patient and doctor. ‘With the portal, Sheila gets direct access to me without having to go through the business of leaving a message with the nurse who takes it to me and then takes the response back to her,’ he points out, ‘It lessens the possibility of miscommunication that occurs when doing it via a third party.’

As for whether age is a factor in use of the portal, Sheila has little time for the notion. ‘One of my fellow residents here was one of the prime movers in setting it up, and he’s 88,’ she points out, ‘Many of my friends are online all the time. We’ve got an 89 year old here who’s one of the local computer gurus – she started playing Pokemon when it first came out! An old friend of mine is 82, and I just got her onto it. Another close friend’s husband needs a lot of repeat prescriptions, so I told her to get them both get signed up, and he now gets that sorted by email. Older people are not that intimidated by computers, as a rule, especially when it’s as straightforward as Manage My Health.’

Article written by Martin Parker for Compass Health

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