The U.S. Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospital system is the largest network of hospitals, doctors and clinics in the nation. Starting about a year ago, the VA began experimenting with a new personal health record (PHR) system for veterans to use in conjunction with their VA medical benefits.
The system is relatively simple to start with, mostly allowing easier access to the VA system for things like appointment setting and reminders, health tips, prescription refills, and the like. My HealtheVet is meant to grow slowly in functionality as the engineers building it find out what veterans want and need and implement it into plans for expansion.
A study published in December in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association from researchers attached to My HealtheVet shows that veterans are showing interest and concern for the PHR system the VA has implemented. Of those using it, most are happy with the idea behind the service. Most concerns center, of course, on privacy and the fact that the system can only be accessed via the Internet.
Other suggested additions include the ability to directly input information from connected health devices (currently only manual input is allowed) and the ability to produce charts and graphs to monitor things like blood sugar or pressure levels would make it easier to see improvements or changes over time as well as give doctors a better idea of what the charts mean.
Having spoken with veterans who use the system, I can tell you from personal anecdotal experience that the number one bonus to the VA’s PHR is the faster and easier-to-use refill system for prescriptions. Any vet knows that their in-person VA treatment often bottlenecks at the pharmacy in the local VA. The online system, they tell me, is even better than the phone system for refills, making it possible to submit refill requests in just a couple of minutes without waiting for all of the phone system auto-messages to play.
Overall, I think our nation’s veterans are going to be well-served with My HealtheVet as the system grows and matures. Although it’s proprietary and not very portable, the VA’s PHR system is a definite step in the right direction for veterans using their benefits.
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