Social media likely coming to Vets health portal

Veterans want features such as chat for the My HealtheVet Web portal

Veterans Affairs Department officials plan to add social-media style tools to the portal veterans use to access health records, a VA official said today at the 2010 FOSE conference.

Veterans use the My HealtheVet to access records, keep health diaries and reorder prescriptions, according to Gail Graham, deputy chief officer of health care information management at the VA.

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Veterans of all ages are using the portal, but younger service members returning from deployments want more functionality, she said.

“Actually we are not meeting their expectations right now, they expect to be able to schedule appointments online and have much more accessibility online than we do today,” Graham said. “We are cognizant that their requests and desires are much more advanced and we intend to keep up with those things that they are requesting.”

For example, the VA is testing the use of secure messaging via My HealtheVet in pilot projects at several VA hospitals, Graham said. Because of privacy requirements under the the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the messaging system is not instant. It  takes place on secure portals between patients and health providers.

Although veterans like the system, many younger service members want more social-media style tools, Graham said.

“Some younger veterans want more of a dialog back and forth, and more access to chat rooms,” she said “We’ve done some work with Second Life and other social media sites. We’ve tried putting up benefits portals where you can virtually kind of walk through the steps that have to be taken to get a benefit.”

Features added to My HealtheVet have primarily come from information found during focus groups with veterans, Graham said. New features will likely come from similar efforts to find out what veterans want, she said.

Federal Computer Week’s owner, 1105 Media, also owns the FOSE conference.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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