by adgrooms on April 10, 2019

I took a long break from going to the doctor. Not really by choice, but I spent my 20’s and part of my 30’s as an uninsured, usually broke musician. My health care experience 20 years ago was probably a little different than most people as my grandfather was my Primary Care Provider.

If I were sick, it was either a quick trip down the road to his house or stop by the urgent care clinic where he worked. As a young man, I was in good shape, and my vitals never showed anything concerning. I never thought about wanting or needing to access my medical records, but I knew that on a shelf somewhere is a folder with my medical history, probably since birth.

Now I’m back in the groove of getting checked up. As I finish out my 30’s, I figured it’s a good idea to see how everything is working even though I feel just as healthy as I did when I was 20.

I had heard a little about Electronic Health Records, but really didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised to get a stack of papers for my intake at the doctors office. I guess I was expecting a more streamlined electronic process. Maybe an intake form at home online to pre-fill? Oh well... I’m sure the cranky office lady was going to do that for me after I handed her the papers.

The next part was pretty much the same as the old days also. The nurse comes to get me, weighs me, takes my blood pressure...and writes it down on some papers. I’m still not really seeing anything “electronic” about my visit yet. Then after waiting a bit, the doctor comes in. After a few minutes of small talk, he opens up a small laptop and starts asking some lifestyle and diet questions. Typing furiously he eventually pulls out the stethoscope and does a quick inspection of my breathing. He says I’m looking like I’m in great shape and he’d see me next year.

I finish up with a trip down the hall to get my blood drawn. I’m told that they will send this away to the lab and get results on how much cholesterol is in my blood among other things. Once again I don’t see a computer being used by the nice lady with a needle.

In the end, my experience kind of showed me that we are still in the infancy stages of EHRs. It didn’t make anything more efficient, and probably detracted from my meeting with my PCP. It wasn’t terrible. It just felt forced that he had to type a bunch of stuff while interviewing me….or maybe I was just used to my grandfather scribbling instead back in the day.

What is this EHR thing and what is it going to tell me about my health???