Just Be Patient

HELP I CAN’T REMEMBER MY PASSWORDS

By Neil Offen

Who among us doesn’t have a roster something like this?

Dermatologist, podiatrist, cardiologist, urologist, gastro-enterologist, orthopedist, physical therapist, ophthalmologist, radiologist, maybe a nephrologist and, occasionally, an otolaryngologist, which used to be known as an ENT when the co-pay was lower. 

And, of course, at the center, our PCP — who used to be known as our GP, when we could get an appointment more easily.

We have so many medical providers because where else can we feel free to complain about a suddenly sore toe and moan about the new ringing in our ears after we have whined so much at home our families all say they need to go out for some milk and don’t return until July?

But getting an appointment, or getting any medical advice or information, now means having to work through the online patient portal. According to a study by the Centers for Center Control, more than 90% of medical providers now offer access to a patient portal for their patients, mainly so they never have to talk directly to them. However, only 6% of patients, and only three people beyond the age of 55, have any idea at all how the portal works. And 83% of patients have been stuck there for months and can’t get out.

As a public service, then, here’s how to navigate your portal.   

Log in with your name and password, if you remember your password. If you enter the password wrong twice before finally getting it right, you will notice on your health summary that your blood pressure is now 173/99.

On the home page is where you’ll find that health summary. The summary is designed to put all your medical information together in one accessible place and to scare the bejeezus out of you when you see your most recent cholesterol numbers and have no idea at all if you should reduce or increase your consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids.

The right side of the page lists current diagnoses, written in formal medicalese so you will be sure you actually have Ebola. The left side will list old diagnoses, so you can feel good that you have successfully navigated puberty.

Then go to the page that lists your medications. They will be listed by incomprehensible generic names so you will have no idea if, for instance, you are taking a medicine for gout or for werewolf syndrome.

At the test results page, you can find the results of all the tests you have taken, like the cholesterol screening and the PSAT, as long as they were administered at this office or at the same practice or within the same network. If they were at a different office, practice or network, you may need a new colonoscopy.  

The results of your exams will be written in formulas like 2.3x10E3/uL, so good luck in figuring out what that means.

If you want to obtain a new prescription or refill an old one, go to the page that’s called “Prescriptions.” Do not go to the page that’s called “Treatments for Werewolf Syndrome.”        

If you want to send a message to your provider, go to the messages page. There you will be asked if the message is urgent, if it requires a reasonably quick reply or if it is something that they can easily ignore until you start shouting at the portal.  

Next, click on the button that will take you to the page where you can try to make an appointment. Try to make it for Tuesday at 10. Of course, nothing will be available until the day after hell freezes over, plus on that day the only open slot will be at 6:45 in the morning.

If you’re lucky, your portal session will have already expired. 


Carrboro resident Neil Offen has written humor pieces for a number of different publications, in a number of different countries. His column appears twice monthly in The Local Reporter.

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