Imagine the awe your grandparents or great-grandparents felt as they watched television for the first time.
Having a television in most U.S. homes is old news by now, but some of the same folks who remember getting their first TV long ago are turning to newer screens these days to see the most amazing programming yet — their own health care.
David Snippen, 66, is a retired carpenter and contractor who built houses for most of his life.
He and his wife, Myra, live in Bloomer, and his two daughters and three grandchildren reside nearby in Eau Claire.
But when Snippen was diagnosed with emphysema, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), five years ago, he had something new to build—his lung capacity.
“I was having trouble breathing, and my oxygen levels were low,” says Snippen. “I went through a pulmonary assessment and found that I definitely had COPD. It was caused by smoking, for the most part.”
His doctor, Kristen Bruxvoort, M.D., a family medicine physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Bloomer, says when she met Snippen she knew he probably had COPD. “You can pretty much diagnose it based on history and one chest X-ray,” she says. “But a pulmonary function test really defines it.”
The missing link
Snippen has an oxygen tank to help him breathe at home and carries a small, portable tank for travel. “I’m active. I move around as much as I can,” he says. But those aren’t his only medical conveniences—Snippen uses Patient Online Services, also known as a patient portal, to stay on top of his health care from his computer.
“I have a lot of appointments,” Snippen says. “I usually follow up on those by going on my account to check the documents. Sometimes, when you’re done talking to doctors, you might not remember what they said. But the documents on the patient portal are pretty thorough.”
Snippen also uses Patient Online Services’ messaging feature. “Dr. Bruxvoort and I have conversed a few times through messaging,” he says. “She’s really good at responding. I’m very happy with the health care I’ve gotten.”
“It’s so easy to send a note through Patient Online Services because you save the stamp, you save the fuss, and the patient receives it instantly,” says Dr. Bruxvoort. “Not having to pick up that phone is a huge time saver for everyone.”
“When I first heard about Patient Online Services, we wondered if people would be upset about what we say about them in the notes,” says Dr. Bruxvoort. But she says the opposite has happened — patients appreciate seeing how much their physicians pay attention to them.
“It’s good,” Snippen says of Patient Online Services.
“I read the notes after procedures, and it reinforces what they told me when I saw them. My records from over the years are all right there and very precise. I like it a lot — I really do.”
Create your Patient Online Services account
For years it’s been possible to shop, bank and make travel reservations online. Now it’s just as easy to manage your health care online too. Patient Online Services gives you access to your lab results, medication lists and health care provider notes. You can also check your upcoming appointments, request appointments or prescription refills and communicate with your providers via secure messaging.
If you are a parent, guardian, caregiver or have legal authority for health care decisions, you may request permission to view health care information and send messages on behalf of your child or someone you care for using Patient Online Services.
Registration is easy. To register, visit mayoclinichealthsystem.org. You’ll need your Mayo Clinic patient number, which is located on your billing statements and any previsit questionnaires, and an email address to create an account.
For assistance setting up an account or using Patient Online Services, call the support line at 1-877-858-0398 (toll-free).