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Monday, February 13, 2012

Who taught you how to be a patient?

On a recent Saturday my son Isaac, Ben Merrion and I filmed a short video about Electronic Medical Records.  Our video was called "Your Medical Record Follows You."  You can vote in favor of it here.

Your health record follows you

It is part of the "What's in Your Health Record? Video Challenge" from  There are many videos that were submitted and they address the need for patient medical record access.  This is a cause which is near and dear to my heart.  I urge you to peruse the videos listed.

Our video was about a very special day last year when Isaac and I went to a local clinic to get his eye checked for pink eye.  The clinic was DC Immediate and Primary Care.  I was amazed when we entered the facility.  The receptionist handed my five year-old son a netbook and asked him to begin building his electronic medical record profile.

I was so happy!  I speak about the empowered patient at venues nationwide, but now it was happening right in front of me.

Isaac filled out what he could and I did the rest.  We submitted his profile online using WiFi.  Then Isaac settled into his chair and began researching snakes on YouTube.

looking up snakes

Soon it was time to be seen by the doctor.  Isaac carried the netbook into the appointment.  The doctor checked his eyes then we googled "Conjunctivitis" and talked about his condition.

eye exam

Isaac and I left very happy about his experience.  A couple of months later we went to his regular check  up at Kaiser Permanente.  Isaac sat impatiently on the examination table as his doctor typed information into his medical record.  After answering a few of her questions, Isaac jumped down off the table, walked over to her keyboard and asked her, "When is it my turn?"

Who taught you how to be a patient?

Before Isaac and I created a video about this story, I painted a Walking Gallery jacket about it. Here my son Isaac is holding the netbook we used at DC Immediate and Primary Care surrounded by classic toys.

Now, when he plays doctor he expects to see a computer or tablet being used. This made me think of how we teach our children to become empowered patients. Do you remember playing with your Fisher Price hospital? Did you play more with the doctor or the patient? Was the care a balanced partnership? Playing Operation as youngster gave me the impression that surgery is a joke, medicine is about making a pile of money and avoid that buzzing alarm at all costs.  The toys we choose and how they are designed very much impacts the way our children relate with the world around them.  I want to see a doctor's kit with technology included, not a black satchel with an antiquated head mirror.

If you ask to see a toy cash register at Child's Play (the toy store I have worked in most of my adult life), I will show you a register with a working calculator and a pretend credit card function. I would never show you the 1970's Fisher Price cash register with side crank handle and mechanical bell. It is no longer available. Registers are not made like that anymore.  So, why does every doctor's kit I see look like it came right out of 1970? We can do better. We owe it to our children. I respect and revere our youth. They are so capable and flexible in their thinking.

We teach our children through play.  If you watch this video you will see Isaac pulling a little wooden toy dog.  It has a carry pouch on it that is labeled Isaac the patient, pulls this dog along and it follows him. 


  1. Keep it up, Regina! The healthcare industry must listen to a young mother and her children . . . that is their security into the future. You have the credentials!

  2. What will the doctor kit of tomorrow look like, an iPad, electronic stethoscope/ultrasound, and a digital otoscope,