The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a pioneer in the widespread, successful deployment of EHR, offers veterans access to their personal health records. The My HealtheVet program does not contain veterans’ complete health records, but does allow prescription refills. Hailed as a useful resource by many, the system has had its problems; the most serious ones have been fixed.
What it does and how to get it
To get a My HealtheVet account, veterans and servicemen and women must register in person at a VA facility. As a registered veteran or service member, once you have an account, you can:
• View portions of your VA personal health record
• Receive “wellness reminders”
• See when your appointments are
• Get online prescription refills
• Track your immunizations
• View lab results
• Send and receive secure messages to and from your VA healthcare providers
• View your DoD (Department of Defense) military service record (service dates, deployment and retirement information, pay rates, and so on).
• Access the VA’s “Health eLogs,” where you can enter and track your blood pressure, weight, cholesterol levels, and more.
• Browse a library of VA-approved health information
• Tools for behavioral health screening
First made available to veterans and servicemen and women in 2003, My HealtheVet started with Web-based educational health information. The appointment reminder tool, self-entered personal health information, and prescription refills were added over the next several years. In 2008-9, EHR was added as the system linked to certain VistA information.
My HealtheVet has had its share of trouble. A blog entry from May 2009 on “Government Out of Control” (http://mcgrew-fam.net/GOVBB/ ) highlights two bugs: “I have two associate degrees in engineering and… a Master’s in Information Technology… This My HealtheVet program could’ve been written by my five-year-old nephew. That’s how big this bug is. For the security of the system, I will NOT go into any details until the problem has been resolved*…. I for one am getting pretty annoyed at the VA… They keep blaming vets for missing appointments and costing tons of money. However, they won’t acknowledge that their computer system makes appointment[s] for veterans without telling them about the appointments. It’s happened to me once, my dad once, and my uncle twice.”
*The first bug referred to here was probably the one that resulted in drug dosage mistakes for many veterans. It has since been fixed.
Here is another example of the appointment problem, as posted as a question and answer on http://vets.yuku.com in March 2012:
[Question:] “I have been scheduled for surgery at the Martinez Ca. surgery center early next month. Normally, my appointments (including a previous surgery) are all visible under the appointments section of My HealtheVet. However, this particular appointment only shows up on the calendar on eBenefits.
Why would that be the case?”
[Posted reply:] “I have noticed that [the] eBenefits calendar of appointments somehow updates before My HealtheVet. It was actually updated ahead of the call from CBOC making the appointment (two days ahead of My HealtheVet). I think eBenefits will eventually be the source for veterans and service members for the largest majority of on-line activity with DoD and the VA.
The problem is getting all these government computer systems to talk to each other; then our information will be only a click away.”