Living in Hawaii definitely has its benefits — the beautiful scenery, the tropical weather, the ocean. But, what if you are living with a chronic condition and there aren't any specialists on the island? For Traci Downs, the answer was Mayo Clinic and Patient Online Services, a tool that enables patients to connect with Mayo Clinic anytime, anywhere.
Downs is a neuroscientist and the chief operating officer of a technology company that she and her husband started. She became a Mayo patient in 2003, when she was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis — a chronic inflammatory disease of the bile ducts that can lead to liver damage. Being more than 4,000 miles and four time zones away from Mayo Clinic has been a challenge for Downs — not only because she has to travel back and forth for appointments, but also because of the amount of time it takes to get tests done and see the lab results. But now, thanks to Patient Online Services, she can get immediate access to her lab results, message her care team and make informed decisions regarding her care.
In the past, when Downs needed to have blood work done, she'd go to the local hospital in Hawaii, and her samples would be sent to Mayo for processing and analysis. Then she'd have to wait for another week to get the results. "Now I can go online and find out what's happened," she says. "I can make decisions faster and the docs can make decisions faster, which is very important when there's a blockage in your liver." She also uses the secure messaging feature when she needs to contact her care team. "I don't have to call someone and play phone tag for days because they're busy," she says. "If my care coordinator is busy, someone else will get back to me."
After her appointments, she can log in to review her doctor's clinical notes and remind herself of everything they talked about. The notes are also helpful for coordinating with her local doctors. "Organizing medical records is a pain," says Downs. "Now it's all there in one place. And if I have to go to some other doctor and he wants to know my labs from two years ago, I can go online and pull it up for him. It's really amazing, I'm so excited about this."
"It's essential to be proactive about your own health care," says Downs. "I think Mayo is the best medical center in the world. I love the doctors here and the atmosphere, and quality of care. But, you still need to be involved in your own health care and be an advocate for it."
Using Patient Online Services