How IT drives change in how healthcare is delivered — with hiccups

How IT drives change in how healthcare is delivered — with hiccups

The delivery and receipt of healthcare today doesn’t necessarily mean a visit to the doctor or hospital in order to receive it.  Nor does it have to mean a home healthcare visit to a patient’s home.

 

A momentous shift has transpired in the management and dispense of healthcare by virtue of online deliveries.  Also today, patients routinely communicate with doctors online, with the added benefit of a record of discussions and details.  Tasks that formerly required an “in person” visit can often be accomplished online, or by mobile:  Things such as prescription refills or the fulfillment of questions.

 

Electronic health records are also very handy in that the patient can access their own treatment records; revisiting details of medical conditions, how they were treated, and outcomes.  Access to these records can even aid litigation on behalf of a patient, if cases of outright malpractice exist, or if a patient would like to evaluate their doctor’s (or doctors’) judgement(s) vis-à-vis other patients’ experiences.  These situations can be researched on the web, although caution must be employed given the potential for exaggerations, falsehoods, or misplaced suspicions that undoubtedly get logged on the general ‘net.  But still, there is a wealth of good info upon which to base a start.

 

Naturally, patients will want to become as adept as they possibly can with whatever healthcare IT system they are using, or are expected to use.  And, hopefully, the providers of these systems (medical and IT) have a solid understanding of patient expectations and abilities in the realm of using these systems.

 

Often, new areas for systemic delivery of user empowerments are rife with cumbersome enablements.  A good example is the Veteran Administration’s (VA) MyHealtheVet system.  I’ve included the italicized “M” and “e” – the name of the system is awkward, for sure.  But – as do so many “systems”, or apps – the associated domain bears no resemblance to the system’s name:  the domain in this case is myhealth.va.gov.  What?  Obviously someone did not follow the KISS principle, which has served me and so many others well over the years: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”  Remember that, and let it serve you well.

 

The mismatch can easily lead vets to erroneously enter www.myhealthevet.gov into their address bar, only to receive:  This site can’t be reached – server DNS address could not be found (I’m paraphrasing  Google Chrome’s return in this example).  Just match site name and domain name (as much as possible) whenever you are in a position to influence such matters.

 

Also, in getting full access to enablements and tools, the VA requires that any specific veteran register for a MyHealtheVet account, as well as an eBenefits account.  Once registrations are made for both systems, one or the other (maybe both) need to be upgraded to “Premium.”  Why?  I dunno – it doesn’t cost anything to go “Premium.”  But to really, really, get all enablements – you must then link the accounts, which requires the “Premium” status (for example; messaging is not available until upgrade/s and linkage).  Oh.

 

It’s a difficult and cumbersome process getting all of this going; registering, upgrading, and linking.  Screen and app flow is not intuitive.  Point-and-click elements are not where you’d expect them (buttons, checkboxes – often at the margins, rather than front-and-center; often on ribbons without prominence).  Then comes the attempt to send a message.  It bombed initially (at least it did for me; it said I didn’t have “100% coverage” and that I didn’t qualify for message sending.  I do, and I do).  A couple days went by, while my trouble ticket languished, and then suddenly, upon a try, I was able to send messages.  

It's tough going within systems such as these.  But not to pick on the VA - just be aware, whether you’re considering a health IT system or some other – many of the areas that are rapidly adopting electronic and online support are experiencing growing pains.  Therefore, don’t rely solely on these systems for various support until you have a routine established, and gain a sense that you can trust them – not just in terms of their enablements and tools, but their general availability and dependability.   

If you have time, participate in surveys, and provide feedback if there are Comments fields.  Input from actual users is invaluable – and hopefully someone is listening!

 
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