Study Suggests Low Proportion of Veterans Are Using My HealtheVet to Transfer or Share Information with Others
Personal health records (PHRs) can facilitate communication between patients and their providers from different healthcare systems and between patients and their informal caregivers. Giving patients ownership of portions of their medical record allows them to share information while avoiding the time-consuming release-of-information process. In 2003, VA introduced My HealtheVet — a web-based patient portal containing a PHR — that provides information about health conditions, VA benefits, and the location of VA services. Approximately 20% of Veterans receiving VA healthcare services are registered with My HealtheVet. This study explored Veteran interest and use of My HealtheVet to transfer (save, print, or send medical information from the PHR to another place) and share information, as well as to identify opportunities to increase Veterans' use of the My HealtheVet functions. Investigators surveyed a random, nation-wide sample of Veterans that used My HealtheVet in 2010. The survey was web-based via My HealtheVet and was offered in two waves: Wave One (2/26/10 to 7/7/10), which asked about the transfer of information from My HealtheVet to other places/persons, and Wave Two (7/7/10 to 10/4/10), which addressed using and sharing Veterans' My HealtheVet medication information list.
- Of the 25,898 Veterans who participated in Wave One, 40% reported printing information, 21% reported saving information electronically, and 4% sent information from My HealtheVet to another person.
- Of the 18,471 Veterans who participated in Wave Two, 30% reported self-entering medication information into My HealtheVet, with 60% of those reporting sharing their complete medication list with their VA providers and 32% with their non-VA providers.
- The authors suggest that although some Veterans are transferring important medical information from their PHRs, increased education and awareness is needed to help them use this information to improve continuity of care with their providers, both VA and non-VA. In addition, they suggest that more information is needed on both barriers to PHR use (e.g., privacy, stigma) and impact on Veteran health outcomes and well-being.
- The population of primary interest for the questions addressed in this study is Veterans already using My HealtheVet; thus, generalizability to My HealtheVet non-adopters is a concern.
- Survey questions and possible responses were not entirely exclusive, e.g., Veterans were asked if they printed out information and then were asked if they sent information to share with someone else, but many who endorsed printing the information may have shared this print-out with others.
This study was funded through HSR&D and VA's Office of Rural Health. Drs. Turvey and Wakefield are part of HSR&D's Center for Comprehensive Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation in Iowa City and VA/HSR&D's eHealth Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI).
Turvey C, Zulman D, Nazi K, Wakefield B, et al. Transfer of Information from Personal Health Records: A Survey of Veterans Using My HealtheVet. Telemedicine and eHealth 2012 Mar;18(2):109-14.