Portals. Sounds a bit sci-fi, but they are not about beaming people up or transporting them to parallel universes. A portal is a direct email connection to your general practice medical file. Our system allows you to make appointments, request repeat prescriptions and check your results. Portals are big news at the moment, with some new systems being rolled out and the Ministry of Health running a major promotional campaign.
Our patients love them. Imagine waking up at three o’clock in the morning with tonsillitis and being able to go straight online to book a GP appointment. Perhaps you are waiting on blood results but have been playing telephone tag with the practice nurse. With a portal you have quick access to the results and any advice associated with them. Everybody wins with this sort of immediate direct response. Repeat prescriptions can be requested at the click of a button and you have electronic confirmation that your request has been received. The only requirement is that each patient has a unique email address, which may limit family usage.
There are two levels of access. Level one can be accessed through the website with minimal ID requirements. That allows you to make appointments and send us messages directly. To activate Level two patients are required to provide ID in person, so that privacy requirements are met. This level will allow you to access your results, a summary of your medical history and request repeat prescriptions. We may introduce other functionality later, depending on demand.
The drive towards this technology is driven by a number of factors. Firstly, tech-savvy patients of all ages are expecting GP’s to keep up with the information revolution. People want large public services to embrace new developments and it makes sense that if you can do internet banking you should have similar access to your medical records.
Secondly, capitation funding means that doctors are able to look at different ways of communicating with their patients. In the old days we got paid only for face to face consultations, but now bulk funding of your care gives GP’s flexibility to put some of that resource into remote access and telemedicine.
Thirdly, the portals are getting better. Like any new programmes they were a bit clunky to start off with but are becoming more user-friendly all the time.
So go to our website www.familydoctors.nz or come and see us and we will “beam you up”.