Brenda Lyle – Hometown News

Q:  What the heck is the “patient portal”?

A:  Fun fact: Medical records date back to ancient times — as hieroglyphics! Paper medical records began filling filing cabinets in the early 1900s. When computers arrived on the scene in the 1980s, electronic health records were born. It’s rare now to spot someone sitting with a clipboard in the doctor’s office. Electronic Health Records are the reason.

History of EHR: The use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) really began in the 1990s.  At first, EHR were mostly used in hospital systems. By 2015, physician offices jumped onboard. Now, it is common for a patient to be handed an electronic device to complete their paperwork. This digital integration makes test results and images immediately available to the physician during the patient visit! The patient (and HIPAA approved caregivers) can access their records 24/7 –if they use a “patient portal.”               

What is a patient portal? A patient portal provides online access to your health records from a secure authorized website. If your local hospital system has a patient portal, any physician you visit (in that system), can access your medical records, test results, images and medication lists. Often, you can send messages to providers, request referrals and medication refills. This ensures continuity of care between medical specialists and can prevent the overprescribing of medications. Best of all, it allows for better communication between doctor and patient.          

Is the technology difficult? Patient portals are designed to be user friendly. Often, the physician’s office will direct you to the website and assign you a username and password. Helpful online videos can provide an overview for the technologically challenged. Your health care surrogate, trusted family member or care manager can also help.

If you work with a Certified Care Manager, then you already know these professionals will maintain your patient portal for you, accompany you to your physician appointments, manage your medication and more. Questions? One Senior Place can help you navigate your senior journey.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.