At IHA, my fellow providers and I are always looking for new ways to improve the patient experience. One of the patient-focused tools IHA offers is the IHA Patient Portal, which is your web-based link to our electronic health record (EHR) that allows you as a patient to be more proactive about your health and physician visits.
First, we all know that “phone tag” is a frustrating and time-consuming game to play and no one wants to wait for a response to come by “snail mail.” The great thing about the Patient Portal is it provides another way for you to communicate with your physician and their office. Additionally, it provides a method for us as physicians to communicate effectively with you. Not only are patients able to view new messages from their physician or physician practice, but they can also view lab results within days of testing, request medication refills, view their statements and pay their bill online. Plus, it is available 24 hours a day, allowing you to view and manage your health information day or night, at your own convenience.
Another great benefit is the security features in place. No health information is sent via email. When a message is sent from the doctor’s office, you receive an email stating you have a new message from IHA and are directed to the IHA Patient Portal to review. As a physician, I can communicate with my patients any time of day and feel confident that they will get the information and understand it clearly. For example, I can prescribe a complicated treatment regimen, or review the potential side effects of a medication and feel comfortable that the information will not get lost in translation. The portal provides a great benefit to patients and doctors alike. Coming in 2012 are the added features of on-line appointment requests and the account manager, which will allow you to manage your family’s health information all under one single account.
The enrollment process takes just a few steps to complete, and the benefits of being enrolled in the IHA Patient Portal are well-worth the time. For more information or to enroll visit the IHA Patient Portal.
As a patient you may have heard the term hypertension before, which is really just another word for having high blood pressure. However, hypertension is a real concern affecting roughly one third of the adult population in the United States.
Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers – the first representing the pressure when the heart is beating (systolic), and the second pressure during the relaxation of the heart (diastolic). So why are these two numbers so important? Blood pressure represents the pressure in the arteries that supply nutrients to the organs. Too much pressure in any system is harmful long-term. We measure blood pressure at rest to determine if a person has hypertension, or if the hypertension is controlled. Individual readings (no matter how high) do not predict immediate risk of stroke and do not require emergency treatment; rather averages of multiple readings indicate blood pressure control.
But why is hypertension such a big concern? Hypertension is highly associated with vascular diseases such as diabetes, stroke, kidney failure, coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure. The best way to prevent a stroke is to control hypertension by controlling blood pressure. Hypertension treatment also decreases the risk of other vascular diseases and risk of heart attack.
Some things to consider:
- The treatment of hypertension has noticeably improved over the past several decades. The current treatments usually result in once-a-day drugs that have rare, minor, and reversible side-effects. These drugs have no side-effects for most people. Many of these drugs are generic and can cost as little as $10 for a three month supply. There are several classes of medications. The majority of patients need more than one class of drug to control their hypertension, however there are many agents with two or three drugs in one pill.
- If you have hypertension, you also need to control your other risk factors for ‘hardening of the artery’ diseases such as heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Areas to work on include quitting smoking, exercising more, controlling your cholesterol and limiting your salt intake. Remember, salt is found in many common foods such as luncheon meats, soups, catsup, ham and cheese.
- If you have hypertension, your physician will most likely recommend you purchase a home blood pressure monitor. They are easy to use and very accurate. I recommend taking your blood pressure in the morning and before dinner after about three to five minutes of sitting, and then record the readings. You should take your blood pressure twice daily for a month after your blood pressure medicine has been added or changed. Monthly readings are sufficient if your blood pressure is controlled. I suggest taking your blood pressure on the first day of each month. Don’t forget to bring in these readings for your health care provider.
Strokes are life-changing and debilitating. Don’t ignore controlling your hypertension as it is a truly silent killer that can be prevented by easy treatment.