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LAWRENCE, MASS. — Herman Quintero was cracking jokes about the lottery, touching just below his right eye for luck. It came down to the Mega Millions to pay the medical bill he pulled up on the Patient Gateway app on his phone. Or somebody lending a hand, he said, eyes puckish as they peered out from under a navy blue Tigers baseball cap — a relic of his years working on a car assembly line in Detroit — and over at the Digital Access Coordinator sitting beside him. Janelle Vargas shook her head. After two years helping him navigate his health care online, she was used to Quintero’s quips.

It was Vargas who helped him learn how to pull up his bill, or check on the long list of medications — souvenirs from several surgeries, a hodgepodge of hip replacements and carpal tunnel release — in his records on the Mass General Brigham electronic patient portal.


A reformed technophobe, 65-year-old Quintero sometimes still relies on family members to help him do phone and email functions he refers to as “social media.” On a recent Thursday, he stopped holding court with receptionists at the medical offices long enough to ask for Vargas’s help at her desk in the waiting room. He needed assistance logging into his email account and figuring out a Zoom function. Besides folks at home, Quintero can count on one callused hand the contacts he has on his cellphone, and one of them is Vargas’s direct line in case he gets locked out of Patient Gateway, his patient portal.

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