When medical questions pop up in the middle of the night or on a weekend when the doctor’s office is closed, many parents hit the Web for answers. MyChart is changing all that.
Parents now can securely message their child’s physician day or night when it’s convenient for them for non-urgent concerns.
From questions about a medication your child is taking to interpreting test results to follow-up issues after a well visit, parents can use MyChart to take the guesswork out of managing their children’s health.
Simply log in to mychart.akronchildrens.org and click on “Message My Doctor’s Office.” Select the office or provider to contact, type in your question and click “Send.” Gone are the days of phone tag or misinformation from online sources.
We sat down with Dr. Thomas Enlow, an Akron Children’s Hospital pediatric neurologist and veteran user of MyChart, to learn more about this feature, what type of questions are best asked and what turnaround time families should expect.
What non-urgent questions are best asked through MyChart?
I tell families a good way to think about it is, ‘Can I wait 1 – 2 days for a response?’
It is often a way to let us know how a child is responding to some intervention — new medication, or increase or decrease in a medication.
As school starts or we enter flu season, we often get questions about whether their child can take Tylenol or cold medication with their current medication. Or, can the child get a flu shot?
They can ask for medication refills and to reschedule appointments, as well.
In addition, rather than calling the doctor’s office to ask about test results, I tell families to wait for my input on MyChart’s Lab and Radiology results. They can then message me in MyChart with any clarifications they need about the results.
What are the advantages of using messaging over phone calls?
For families, the biggest benefit is avoiding phone tag. They call in, leave a message. The nurse/provider responds, but mom’s not available so we leave a message. Mom calls back, leaves another message. We get it late in the day and again, mom’s not available and now the office is closed. The next day, we start this all over again.
With MyChart, there is no phone tag. We get the message, respond and the parent gets our response.
What if I have a follow-up or need more clarification on your response? Can I email you again?
Yes, the family [should] respond to my message. In fact, that’s often very helpful as I can review the chain of messages and learn which of my responses are not as easy for families to understand or follow.
What turnaround time can I expect?
This varies a lot. Often messages are first reviewed by our nurses so standard questions can get a much quicker response. For example, if they need to reschedule an appointment, our scheduling people may respond within a couple of hours.
Likewise, for refills, our nurse can verify dosing and get the order to the provider within a couple of hours. It still might not get signed until the end of the day, but again, the provider may sign those script requests sooner.
For fairly straightforward questions, the nurse may be able to respond directly. Sometimes, if the nurse feels the question is a quick one or maybe a more important question, they may grab us, get our answer and then respond to the parent, rather than waiting for the provider to respond.