My Chart Plus Aggravation + Confusion

By Loretta Wrobel    

May is my birthday month, and one of the unavoidable traumas as you age is that you are forced to dance with the medical system more frequently each year. You cannot avoid it. The body does get tired and breaks down and doesn’t operate as it used to when you were younger. Fortunately, I have been fairly healthy for most of my long existence on this planet this time around. However, as I pass into yet another decade, I witness my ailments multiplying, not life threatening, but needing attention. Consequently, I am compelled to go to the computer and sign on to My Chart Plus.

Initially, it seemed to be a great invention. You just have a short period of learning to navigate the system and voila, you are contacting medical personnel and getting test results and getting reminders of appointments. What a sense of safety and comfort. That is until the system runs into an error or a blip or you can’t remember your password. 

I am feeling quite smug and knowing help is just a few clicks along the way. Sending a message seems quick and you get fast results—until you don’t. I have waited for more than a week and a half without any return response. That leaves you with one alternative, Calling. This is an anxiety inducing experience, as you need to give all sorts of information and are not connected to the department you want. You have to know what number you want or the name of who you want to speak to. All of these detours take more Time. Finally, when you reach the appropriate office, you get a time frame of two to six months for an appointment.

Here is a lengthy saga of what I experienced recently. I call a clinic for an appointment and I am told I had to have a referral from my doctor. My doctor, meanwhile, had given me the number of the clinic. I use my chart to notify the office for a referral. I do get a response within a few days, asking for what kind of a referral. Finally, I get a notification that the referral has been made. I do not call the clinic back, since I was told they will call me and it could be up to three weeks. I finally get a return call two months later. My appointment is set for three months in the future. I guess they are very busy.

However, that is not the only shock. Here are my instructions. I have to go to pick up my test results and bring it myself to the clinic when I go. I have to contact my doctor’s office for them to fax blood test results to the specialty clinic. I say, “Just get it from my chart plus.”  The reply “Oh no, as this is a different group and we don’t have access to your medical chart.” I thought the whole purpose was to have coordinated health care where medical personnel could see all of your health history to provide better care. 

What happens next? Well, I sign onto the other healthcare system. Wrong, as I don’t have an access code from their medical insurance. Next step is a shot in the dark. I return to my home page for my chart, and—surprise– I then see a link to the other healthcare system. OK I am riding high. I have solved this puzzle. Not so, as there is a problem loading the information. Check back later. I go back three times and no success. However, on the fourth attempt, I am successful. What a puny reason to be elated. Nonetheless I am. I am driven to feel great about a successful link in. These are the times we live in. No wonder depression and anxiety are on the rise!

This is our highly advanced medical system that functions some of the time and doesn’t much of the time. I used to believe, when I heard horror stories about what happened, that it was just a glitch. A friend reports that after a three plus hour test on her gallbladder and pancreas, the results are negative. Why has she been in severe pain? No answer. 

We are getting sicker along with our medical systems. We need to create some loud action. No one should have to wait for a critical test for three months. Nobody should be denied a treatment because of a denial by the insurance company. 

Next comes the reality of the remuneration that the head, the CEO–chief executive officer, receives from their insurance company. We all know such an excessive amount of salary, bonuses, and benefits are absorbed by the rest of us. We are just trying to take care of our bodies. It is no secret that yet again we are dealing with Corporate Greed. 

All of us are struggling as our rates for insurance increase, our coverage decreases, plus our services are often not timely and require longer and longer waiting periods. This is not a sustainable path. And it means we have to wait longer and longer to get even simple tests or services. For older folks how long can we wait? How do we take care of ourselves?  Why does it always get back to this: The sane choice is not available. 

Healthcare is a fundamental right. As citizens, we deserve appropriate and speedy healthcare to keep ourselves functioning in this dysfunctional system or at best unwieldy system. Perhaps the healthcare companies have expanded too far, with too many mergers, or the desire for profit has taken top seat? 

Healthcare needs to remember their goals, not to accrue fatter profits but to bring greater health to the populations they serve. It seems like an easy fix. We need to take back control. My own doctor, not an insurance company employee, sitting at a desk in some home office somewhere on earth, is the appropriate resource to make decisions regarding my care. Good health is not for profit! We need to pressure our insurance companies to stand up for state-of-the-art efficient healthcare that is affordable and available to every person. It is attainable, and we deserve the right to be as healthy as possible. May your next experience with the medical system be smooth and navigatable. I wish you top quality healthcare and health, especially as we move towards November elections!!!

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