Thoughts on MedX

This morning I sit in my daughter’s San Francisco apartment pondering the barrage of information that I was exposed to during the previous three days at the Stanford MedX conference. My mind is full of images that begin with Regina Holliday‘s beautiful pre-conference canvas

Representation of a part of the canvas

and end with my friends Lisa Fields and Ruth Ann Crystal; relationships made over the internet through Social Media and cemented by meeting IRL (in real life).

Ruth Ann Crystal, myself, Lisa Fields

The conference was a showcase of healthcare innovation and opportunities to network with empowered patients from the Society for Participatory Medicine and other like-minded health professionals. The epatients’ stories along with Regina Holliday’s exhortations to “change the world NOW” were the most compelling part of the program. Over the next few weeks I hope my mind processes what was learned and results in more ideas for changes that improve patient experience in my practice and, who knows, even in my healthcare system.

Flash mob on stage with Regina Holliday (in red)

At first, when asked by other participants why I came to Stanford, I wasn’t immediately sure. I made the reservation out of a gut reaction but by day two my motivation was obvious: MedX provides the energy and focus necessary to change our broken healthcare system. Tim Autrey of the Practicing Perfection Institute commented in his workshop that change must start with the individual. This individual began over a year ago but the MedX conference provided a powerful infusion of energy to improve my personal relationships with patients and exhort my system to do the same. Thank you Dr. Larry Chu, Nick Dawson and the staff who worked so hard to make the conference the success it has become.

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Patient Portal Success

“Doctor Nieder, my wife got this new smartphone and she wants to know why she can’t communicate with you using it. Can she?” This coming from a 70 something patient. I’d seen his wife a few days previously and she had a question about her medication. She wanted to know why she couldn’t just email me about it.

We talked a little bit about the insecurity of email and personal health information (PHI in my world). Then I happily explained that,  indeed she could communicate directly with me using her smartphone. I gave him my card with the RelayHealth information on it, directed him to look to the upper right-hand corner of the website and click “register”. This will take her to this page:

Relay Health Sign in

 

After finishing the registration process, pick a provider – me – and then RelayHealth sends me notification of the registration. After that she can directly communicate with me. He left the office happy to have good news for his wife.

I know many of my colleagues are hesitant to give patients direct access but consistently the portal has saved me more time than cost me. Patients ask thoughtful appropriate questions. If an appointment is needed a staff member calls them. Otherwise I can give an equally thoughtful response on my own time. As they say “It’s a win-win.”

 

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The Google Pre-consultation

Patients frequently preface a question with “I know doctors hate it when their patients look stuff up on the internet, but…” In typical doctor fashion I interrupt them at this point and say, “No I don’t, I like it when patients do that.” It takes a moment or two for that to take. Then they nod and ask whatever is worrying them that they’ve found on line.

The Google “pre-consultation” is a fact. According to research done by the Pew Research Center, 72% of internet users have searched the internet for health information.[1] Many doctors I know, or at least the ones on social media, will pro-actively ask their patients “what did you read about it online?” This often relieves a couple of anxieties. First, that the doctor will negatively judge the patient for checking on line and secondly, the patient can proceed to ask questions about what is worrying her or him.

So when you come in to see me, instead of the “petit papier” with all your questions, I’ll expect them to be in a list on your smart phone or tablet (the paper is OK too). And if you want to send them in ahead of time, be my guest! Go to RelayHealth.com, register and send me your questions before your appointment. We can save time and cover more ground that way.

Oh, and when you are researching on the web, be careful out there. You can find lots of wrong information, chicanery and just plain bad advice on the internet. Here are my recommended web sites for disease searches:

If you are looking for patients with similar conditions to yours, there are some great patient communities out there as well:

And always, if you think of a question you forgot to ask please contact me through RelayHealth.com.

1. http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2011/November/Pew-Internet-Health.aspx

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