Health care is undergoing a digital revolution — and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Less face-to-face contact is just what the doctor ordered to combat COVID-19 infections. And Penn Medicine’s patient portal, myPennMedicine, is making it all possible.
“There's so much more that patients can do via the myPennMedicine portal now,” says Suzanne McGettigan, CRNP, a medical oncology nurse practitioner at Penn Medicine. “They can check in prior to an office visit and schedule their own exams. They don't have to call and talk to someone to facilitate these kinds of changes.”
“I'd say probably 80 percent of my patients use it,” notes Susan Day, MD, MPH, an internal medicine specialist at Penn. “It’s allowed us to communicate 24/7 with our patients.”
What Is the myPennMedicine Portal?
myPennMedicine is Penn Medicine’s online patient portal. A patient portal is a secure website that enables you to manage your health and health care from a personal computer or mobile device.
“Patients can see all of their laboratory and imaging test results and pathology reports. They can also share them with providers who aren't part of the Penn Medicine system,” says McGettigan.
“It’s now our primary mode of communication with patients,” adds Dr. Day. “We also have shared notes, which means that as soon as I complete my note about your visit and sign it, you can read it on myPennMedicine. That’s helpful to caregivers and patients who may have forgotten exactly what the doctor told them to do.”
It’s a far cry from how things were previously handled. Dr. Day says she used to receive 20 follow-up slips at the end of each day.
“There was no convenient way for people to ask a quick question about how much medicine to take or side effects,” she relates. “Now, I can just go through my inbox and answer messages throughout the day. Patients get a fast response, don’t have to play telephone with a call center or triage nurse and the information is saved in their electronic medical records. It makes communication easier and more convenient for everyone.”
No-fuss prescription refills are also available on myPennMedicine. Prescription information is stored in the portal.
“If you need a refill on a blood pressure pill but can't remember what it's called, you can log in to myPennMedicine and see your specific medication and dose,” says Dr. Day.
Five myPennMedicine Updates
While patients have had access to myPennMedicine for several years, five features are making it easier and safer to access health care during the coronavirus pandemic:
1. Earlier check-in for appointments
You can now check in up to four days before your appointment — wherever you are. myPennMedicine’s Pre Check-In feature lets you spend less time in the waiting room and avoid unnecessary physical contact with others.
To use Pre Check-In, you simply fill out the health care forms that you would normally answer in the office, including confirming or updating your contact information, insurance information, medications, allergies and current health issues.
"People previously had to fill out a paper questionnaire. It could be frustrating because you may have already filled it out two days before at a different appointment,” explains Dr. Day. “Now, the base questionnaire pulls in all the information from your medical record. All you have to do is correct inaccuracies or say if anything has changed. It makes it easier for you and your provider to have a focused conversation when you come in and address the things that really matter.”
2. Convenient and secure online bill pay
In addition to updating your personal and health information through the portal, you can also use myPennMedicine to sign documents and pay bills. By paying bills and copays online, you won't need worry about handling your credit card or check book during your appointment and having unnecessary physical contact.
3. Easier appointment scheduling
You can now schedule primary care and specialist visits yourself and join electronic waitlists for earlier appointments. You can also save your favorite appointments to make the process faster.
“You can set up myPennMedicine to send notifications about your care needs. If you’re due for a mammogram, for example, you can put the order in, sign it and get an immediate scheduling ticket to schedule your test,” explains Dr. Day. “You don’t have to sit in front of a scheduling clerk for 10 minutes while they call around to different locations and try to match up dates.”
Patients can also access urgent care through myPennMedicine. “You can go in the portal and schedule yourself for an urgent care visit at any time,” notes Dr. Day.
4. Centralized health information
Gone are the days of running around to get your different providers on the same page. myPennMedicine lets you link it to outside health care accounts so that you can access your information in one place. You can also share health information with other providers outside the Penn Medicine network via Share Everywhere.
“You don't have to go to medical records, sign up, sign a form and wait for them to send it out to be copied. You can access all the information right away,” says Dr. Day.
“And if you’re traveling, it's a way to pull up your information and share it with a provider who you wouldn’t usually see at another facility,” says McGettigan.
Learn more about bringing your health information together
5. Convenient eProxy access
myPennMedicine allows you to give eProxy access to family members.
"A family member can legitimately go into your charts, read and reply to your messages, or check on lab tests,” says Dr. Day. “This is a great feature for people who have parents that need help managing the computer.”
How myPennMedicine Helps With COVID-19 Care
myPennMedicine continues to be a valuable tool in COVID-19 care. Doing certain health care tasks online has meant less exposure to others and more space for physical distancing in waiting rooms.
“The portal has also been tremendously helpful for patients who have questions about appointments and COVID-19 in general,” Dr. Day says. “We can easily give them the information they need, including whether to postpone scheduled care.”
Patients can also access a wealth of accurate, up-to-date COVID-19 information through Penn Medicine’s Healthwise Health Library and the COVID-19 Bot. Library content is available in both English and Spanish, and the chat bot can answer specific questions about COVID-19.
COVID-19 test results are available on myPennMedicine as well. “As soon as Penn completes your test, you have access to the results,” notes Dr. Day.
You can access myPennMedicine on your phone or tablet as an app, on your desktop computer or on all three.
“It's a great portal,” adds McGettigan. “It makes it easy for patients to communicate with us no matter where they are. And they get feedback in real time, securely and with a record of it in their chart.”