For Donald Krohn, it helped tremendously when he suffered heart attack symptoms during a vacation out of state.
Inez and Donald Krohn, Port Edwards
For Mary Brunstad, it helped her avoid an unnecessary visit to a hospital emergency department for a tetanus shot.
"It" in both cases is My Marshfield Clinic, the secure online portal that provides Marshfield Clinic patients with access to their health information anytime, anywhere.
Krohn, 83, Port Edwards, was visiting a daughter in California last March when he started feeling not well.
Having previously suffered a heart attack and being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, he and wife, Inez, headed quickly to a large medical complex near Palm Desert.
Before they left, Inez logged into My Marshfield Clinic on her laptop, then printed out some 30 pages of medical information about her husband. It was all there, from records of physician visits and diagnoses to exact dates of immunizations, lab test results and current medication lists.
"It was a huge hospital with 25 cardiologists," he recalled. "They were quite pleased and surprised by all the information we were able to give them." Instead of taking precious time to gather their own medical history, the California doctors made good use of the information in My Marshfield Clinic.
The doctors at first worried about doing a heart study because of Krohn's age and other complicating factors. But seeing the previous results of such a test via My Marshfield Clinic, they decided to go ahead and perform an angiogram.
They ultimately decided to treat him with medications after talking to his Marshfield Clinic cardiologist, Kelley Anderson, M.D. Within a few days, Krohn was able to return to Wisconsin.
Inez Krohn said the West Coast doctors were certainly interested in what they saw in My Marshfield Clinic.
"I think they were pretty impressed, and as time went on, they were making decisions on how to treat Don, and I know they were looking at the records," she said. "I definitely recommend that people sign up for this. Our case is an excellent example of how to use this service. Without it, the doctors out there would have had to duplicate all of this history and testing."
Mary Brunstad's experience was less critical but saved her considerable time and expense. Brunstad, of Chippewa Falls, was pruning a branch on a shrub before dusk when an adjacent branch shot up and caught her in the arm. The branch tore a layer of skin back, creating a flap about the size of a postage stamp.
"My husband and I took care of cleaning it out, but my first thought was about my last tetanus shot. I knew it had been a while," she said. "Then I thought, 'wait a minute,' and I looked up My Marshfield Clinic on my computer. I found my immunization record and there it was. My next tetanus booster shot wasn't due until August of 2013."
The information meant she didn't have to go to a hospital emergency department, the only option on a holiday weekend. She figured they probably would have given her an unnecessary booster because she couldn't remember when she had her last booster.
"It was so helpful," she said. "I think other patients should not only sign up for My Marshfield Clinic, but share that information with family members. My husband didn't know that I had signed up. Now, if I ever have a serious injury and cannot communicate, he would be able to provide the data. He could get it at his office, home or anywhere with the Internet, if we weren't with each other at the time. That's comforting to know."