Health IT

My HealtheVet turns 15

Myhealthevet screengrab 

The online patient portal for the Department of Veterans Affairs celebrated its 15th birthday this Veteran's Day. When My HealtheVet launched in 2003, the site was on the cutting edge compared to other government online offerings and even fairly novel regarding of what large health systems offered patients in terms of access to records.

Now, My HealtheVet is embedded in the architecture of the VA. The service is linked from the newly redesigned VA homepage and essentially serves as the front door to patient care. VA patients can use the tool to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, send secure emails to health care providers and download and share health records and even medical imaging files and associated reports. The My HealtheVet is one of three credentials -- along with the Defense Department's DS Logon and ID.me -- that veterans can use to sign into online VA services.

My HealtheVet has attracted 4.5 million users since its launch, and more than half of VA patients have registered. The site is responsible for more than 40 percent of VA's total web traffic and generated more than 60 million sessions in fiscal year 2018.    

"Our biggest accomplishment, I think, is serving as the voice of the veterans, giving them a stake in their care," said Theresa Hancock, who has served as director of My HealtheVet in the Veterans Health Administration for more than 10 years. The service is a "disruptor" that "responded  to [veterans'] needs … by removing the hospital walls and being able to deliver care where and when they wanted it, which opened the door to mobile and telehealth."

Hancock said the future will include more personalization, the ability to delegate access to relatives and health care proxies and improve connections between the data in My HealtheVet and community providers.

"Community care is different," Hancock said. "We're not there yet, system‑to‑system, but that is something that is in the pipeline to be worked."  

The My HealtheVet team recently conducted a pilot with the U.S. Postal Service in a testing environment to conduct exchanges of health records for veterans who work in the USPS.

The MyHealtheVet service will continue even as VA transitions from its homegrown Vista medical record to a commercial system acquired from Cerner -- a 10-year national system migration that is expected to cost $16 billion.

An effort to see how My HealtheVet meshes with Cerner is in the early stages.

"It's in several phases. The first is to modernize through VA.gov and digital modernization. Then we're working hand‑in‑hand with Cerner to do a gap analysis of what we have, what they have," Hancock said. "We've been working with them and will continue to do so, along with VA.gov, so that it will be seamless to the veterans, with minimal disruption."

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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