As Yale Health begins to push MyChart enrollment to students, current users are warning students to push back.
On Monday afternoon, Yale Health sent out a campus-wide email encouraging students to enroll in MyChart, an online interface that allows patients to interact with Yale Health providers. The email also said MyChart allows users to request appointments and view test results and medication information using the portal. But current users — who were also initially told that they could refill prescriptions with the website — warn that MyChart does not function as advertised.
“The whole thing does not work like they claim it works,” said senior administrative assistant at the Yale Writing Center and MyChart user Walter Foery. While the physician messaging capability has been functional for him since he registered for MyChart shortly after the application’s launch, he said he is unable to use MyChart for anything else.
MyChart is part of an effort to move away from paper records. Administrators at Yale Health hope to create a system where students no longer need to call Yale Health for basic administrative tasks.
However, current users note that this goal is far from being achieved, and that the information on the MyChart website is misleading.
“When you activate your MyChart account, you will immediately be able to request appointments with your primary care clinician,” the MyChart FAQ page reads.
However, on MyChart’s appointment scheduling page, none of these providers are listed as eligible for online scheduling. While it is possible for students to request appointments, and be notified if their request has been approved within two business days, it is not possible for anyone to directly schedule appointments with Yale Health providers.
Foery — who has been on MyChart for roughly a year — said the website has been displaying the online scheduling option prominently on its homepage for over a year despite it still not being functional today.
When Foery first registered with MyChart, he said, there were only four providers listed, and none were based in New Haven. Now, eight providers are listed on the website, but again, none are based in New Haven. Instead, the providers listed are based in Wesport, Stamford, Guilford, Greenwich, Trumbull and West Haven.
Foery said that since users can only book appointments with physicians that they have already seen, the scheduling function is next to useless for most Yale Health users, as few have seen providers at other cities in the state.
Yale Health Medical Director Michael Rigsby MED ’88 said in an email that the self-scheduling service is not yet fully functional, acknowledging that the pharmacy interface needs to be improved.
Rigsby said MyChart is unable to take care of prescription renewals after a patient gets three refills of the same drug. But he added in a later email that he advised patients not to use MyChart for refills either because the system cannot communicate with the pharmacy database.
On two occasions, Foery was unable to refill prescriptions using MyChart.
“I’m holding the bottle clearly in my hand that says I have enough refills left, yet I am faced with an error message,” Foery said.
One student, who asked to remain anonymous to keep her contraceptive choices private, said that while refills occasionally work on MyChart, the system is unreliable, so she has to call in instead.
According to Rigsby, MyChart is most helpful when patients want to communicate directly with clinicians. But Foery said the application is not completely reliable even in that domain. Since providers have to opt into using the messaging system, there is no guarantee that Yale Health patients will be able to message their specific providers, Foery said.
However, Foery acknowledged that the number of physicians who have opted in to the new system has increased in the past year. Of the six doctors he has seen in his 20 years using Yale Health, 90 percent of them can now be messaged on the application, he said, adding that he cannot comment on how well-utilized the messaging capacity is across the board.
Despite that increase in messaging functionality, Foery does not recommend using the system as it is now.
“If someone asked me whether you should sign up for MyChart, I’d say probably not right now,” he said. “The benefits aren’t great.”
According to Rigsby, when self-scheduling is fully functional, it will initially only be available to students.