A Guide to Understanding MyChart
What it is and how it works
Image courtesy of elenabsl/Shutterstock.com
MyChart is a free service provided by many medical providers that gives patients personalized access to portions of their medical information. It also serves as a direct line of communication through which patients can interact with their doctors. MyChart accounts can be accessed via a secure portal 24/7 from any location with internet access.
MyChart allows users to:
• Make and cancel medical appointments.
• Communicate with their doctors about non-urgent needs.
• View the results of some medical tests, usually available one business day after results are available to medical staff.
• Complete paperwork before appointments.
• Read notes from office visits.
• Request prescription refills.
• Pay medical bills.
Each medical system has its own version of MyChart. Patients need to request an activation code from their provider in order to sign up and begin using MyChart. This can be done either in person at your next appointment or by calling a customer service number for assistance, which most medical systems offer. For example:
• Duke Health Customer Service: 919‑626‑9037 or 919‑351-8576
• UNC HealthLink: 888-996-2767
• WakeMed HelpDesk: 919-350-2288
Sharing Access Via Proxy Accounts
MyChart accounts are specific to one person and information cannot be shared unless permission is requested and granted. If you would like access to another person’s medical information, you will need a proxy account. Proxy accounts are available for parents and guardians of children under the age of 18, for adult family members (for example, if you wanted to share access to your records with your spouse), and for friends and incapacitated adults. A request from the person wishing to share his or her information must be made in order to allow someone else access to the information via a proxy account. Keep in mind that you must have your own MyChart account with the same provider in order to request a proxy account.
Currently, a parent with multiple children will need to log in separately to view and access information in each child’s MyChart account. Developers are working on a solution to link sibling accounts together in order to make it easier for parents to manage all of their children’s accounts from one login.
MyChart for Teens
MyChart accounts for teens have been created to help engage them in their health care, as well as to increase communication between them, their family and their doctors. Teens are defined as children between the ages of 12 and 17. The information that can be displayed legally in MyChart to parents and guardians who have proxy accounts set up for their teens is very limited due to North Carolina privacy laws — namely North Carolina law G.S. 90-21.4(b) — regarding the disclosure of information without a minor’s consent. Parents or guardians cannot view data about past appointments, test results, letters or most other communications from the physician’s office.
This law was established because there are certain medical issues that minors can see a doctor about without parental consent, including sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, mental health concerns and substance abuse. It has been reported that minors are more likely to seek help with these issues when they can do so with privacy.
A Physician’s Perspective
According to Dr. Hillary Lockemer, M.D., of WakeMed Physicians Practices, approximately 31 percent of WakeMed patients are currently using MyChart. She says her favorite feature of MyChart is “being able to answer my patient’s questions in a timely and efficient manner.”
Thanks to MyChart, Lockemer is often able to have completely secure, real-time conversations — almost like texting — with her patients. Instead of having to carve out time at the end of the day to answer emails and return phone calls, she can check MyChart between appointments and respond quickly to questions and concerns.
MyChart should be used for routine communication with your medical providers. If a situation requires immediate attention, call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room.
Check Apple’s App store or Google’s Play store to download a free version of your provider’s MyChart app on your phone.
Maureen Churchill lives in Durham with her husband and son. Learn more about her at carolinaparent.com/cp/blogs/main/searching-for-balance.