Micare to offer better communication between providers and patients

By Julie CalohanFebruary 16, 2010

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

The electronic personal health record MiCare, pioneered at Madigan Healthcare System was labeled a success recently at the annual Military Health System conference in Washington, D.C.

Now, MHS is investigating a new concept to enhance MiCare that provides more options for communication between medical providers and beneficiaries.

Called the MHS Patient Portal, the new online service will allow patients to interact with their providers and manage their own health records. The MHS Patient Portal will include applications and capabilities for patients to control access to their health information, and share that information with any provider or health care manager they choose.

"Patients can manage what information their providers see and help control their medical data," said Rick Barnhill, acting chief medical information officer for the Western Regional Medical Command and Madigan Army Medical Center.

According to Barnhill, the portal will offer several advantages for both patients and providers. Patients will have access to online appointments and can track data from external medical devices like pedometers or glucometers (an at-home blood sugar monitoring device). Patients referred to civilian providers can link their military and civilian health records. Providers can comprehensively research a patient's health information, and upload managed care data from the military's electronic medical record-keeping program.

Barnhill believes one of the best options offered by the MHS Patient Portal is the secure messaging system. Patients and providers can communicate online about test results or prescription refills, and providers can send out blanket messages to groups of patients reminding them to make appointments.

"Secure messaging will help providers to get their patients the appointments they need," Barnhill said. "But patients can also interact with providers and nurses without even coming to the hospital."

MiCare currently has 1,600 customers from Madigan, and the funding for that program is being sustained as the MHS Patient Portal is being built, since the two programs will work together. They will eventually support the entire Department of Defense medical beneficiary population, which totals about 9.1 million people.

Enrollment for MiCare is still available to all beneficiaries at Madigan. For more information, call 253-968-3670. Instructions on how to register can also be found at www.micare.us.