TWIN FALLS • Physicians and patients say they’re happy with St. Luke’s new Magic Valley-Jerome Patient Portal.

Since the end of September, medical records have been available online to patients of St. Luke’s Magic Valley and Jerome medical centers.

“It’s better health care,” said Dr. Trevor Satterfield, who was a driving force in opening the patient portal.

Satterfield contrasted the results of today’s patient-doctor partnership to yesteryear’s policy that kept medical charts hidden from patients’ prying eyes.

“The more access patients have to their medical records, the more informed they are and the more engaged they become in their health,” he said.

Kris Lammers, of Jerome, agreed as she and the doctor sat Tuesday at a computer, reviewing her husband’s medical history through the patient portal.

Lammers has taken care of her husband’s medical needs since he developed Alzheimer’s disease.

“What’s most helpful to me is being able to ask the doctor a question (through the portal) without waiting long for an answer,” she said.

Lammers’ involvement in her husband’s care demonstrates that “you don’t have to be a patient” to access the secure patient portal, said St. Luke’s site manager Stephanie Hass.

With the patient’s permission, a medical proxy can view electronic records, ask questions and schedule appointments for the patient.

The portal is especially useful for elderly patients whose families can use it to track medications and doctors’ instructions, Hass said.

The portal can be used from any computer with Internet access — meaning Magic Valley “snowbirds” can pull up their St. Luke’s records at their Arizona doctor’s office, said Satterfield. Or they can print a list of prescriptions to take to a medical appointment or pharmacy.

Satterfield has been practicing family medicine for four years at St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

Having access to medical records, including information from past doctor visits, tends to ease patients’ anxieties about medications, dosages and possible drug complications, he said.

Patients also are able to better understand the results of tests and scans when they see them through the portal than when they hear them over the phone, he said.

The long-term goal of the Magic Valley-Jerome patient portal is to merge its electronic records with the greater St. Luke’s health system’s “MyChart” portal.

St. Luke’s Boise has been using the “MyChart” patient portal successfully for several years.

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