LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -These days, you can find just about anything online, including your healthcare information.
Under a government mandate that went into effect in 2015, hospitals and doctor's offices have to provide patients with a service that allow them to view their medical records online. The Patient Portal allows you to access lab results, make appointments with doctors and even sends you appointment reminders, but does that convenience come with a risk of losing your private information?
Officials with at Southwestern Medical Center say they have worked alongside the vendor providing the Patient Portal service to ensure the highest possible security when it comes to the patient's confidentiality.
"To be certified as a company for Patient Portal, they have to have certain requirements in place to meet that certain certification," explained Johnna Morrell, medical records officer at Southwestern Medical Center.
Morrell says only your healthcare provider and authorized hospital staff see your medical information. Morrell says with those safeguards in place, patients shouldn't worry about their medical records online.
"To me, if they got that certification, then that's almost like having the FDA stamp of approval," Morrell said.
She says she uses the Patient Portal and finds it to be helpful.
"I like the ease of the going in and just being able to look at things without having to go through the manual process," Morrell said.
Patricia Moorhouse Getz, the clinical informatics coordinator at Southwestern Medical Center, says the program offers patients several other benefits.
"This keeps it all in one place for you. You can add as you want. So, if you do go to a doctor that's not affiliated with SWMC, you can put it into the system," Moorhouse Getz said.
Moorhouse Getz says the program is so easy, you could sign up before you leave the hospital.
"A lot of patients who've been admitted are sitting in their beds, looking at their emails, saying I want to do that," Moorhouse Getz said.
She says the overall goal for the patient through this program is for them to empower themselves.
"Know your information, take it with you, feel like you're making your decisions," she said.
Other benefits to using the Patient Portal records are reviewing your medications and discharge summary reports. You can also view the medical records of family members through the Patient Portal, but it requires a signature from that family member.
There is no cost for using the Patient Portal.