Written by: Dianne Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Coy C. Carpenter Library, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
Two years ago, a second year medical student wanted to do research on how the under-served and uninsured population received access to healthcare with the federal government’s new healthcare plan. With another librarian, we crafted several search strategies and searched but didn’t come up with anything appropriate. Since the healthcare plan was new at the time, we helped him change his topic for that research project. That research question planted a seed for me.
At the same time, my institution was implementing electronic health records to be called myWakeHealth. Along with all the training that came with integrating new programs, there were many communications about how to publicize and teach patients about myWakeHealth. An example is the internal website having scripts for different types of healthcare providers explaining how to show myWakeHealth to patients.
I decided to sign up and see how it worked. As I was doing it, I wondered how someone without a computer or access to the Internet would do it. I knew patients were receiving a print-out summarizing each visit and letters in the mail explaining test results because I had received them. I also knew I could call or email my providers, but again, I’m an employee and I’m comfortable with technology.
My institution kept promoting our patient promise about how we will keep patients safe, respect their time, etc., but we also wanted patients to be empowered with their healthcare. And in today’s world, empowerment comes via technology. So being a librarian who helps teach various populations, having been in charge of the history of this institution for a number of years and having a life-long attraction to the under-served population (always cheering for the under-dog in sports), I decided to help. Thus is born what I unofficially called: Your Ambassador for myWakeHealth!
I approached the manager at the Downtown Health Plaza, an outpatient clinic for the under-served population, with my idea. I knew what the Plaza did since I created a historical website about the various healthcare buildings in Forsyth County. The Downtown Health Plaza manager suggested I support the community at Winston East Pediatrics, the pediatric clinic for the same population. I came armed with my laptop, smartphone, clipboard, authorization/registration forms and two pens. I used the clipboard, paper forms, and pen the most after I approached parents in the waiting room. I briefly explained what myWakeHealth is and offered the form for them to register. Most parents were appreciative and typically filled it out if they had a few free minutes.
After having done this for a month and somewhat targeting the people I approached, I decided that the waiting area for a pediatric clinic was not the best environment. I sent the forms the parents filled out to another department which sent patients a paper letter explaining how to create a myWakeHealth account. So working in a stressful waiting room with no follow-up after the initial form helped me realize that I could do more in a better environment.
I’m now in the process of speaking with various community advocates to set up myWakeHealth classes in nearby recreation centers, public libraries, and churches to teach this population how to use myWakeHealth – hopefully bringing health information, comfort, and empowerment.