Late Breaking News
Study Looks at Usability of VA's Personal Health Record System
INDIANAPOLIS — The VA’s My HealtheVet is not only the most widely disseminated personal health record system in the United States, it also is likely to become the model for such systems nationwide.
That’s why researchers are so interested in how MyHealtheVet and its ease of use is perceived by beneficiaries.
A new study recruited patients into a human-computer interaction laboratory to determine the user experience for several popular functions of the VA’s personal health record system; the study appeared recently in a supplement to the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
|David Haggstrom M.D|
"Understanding how first-time users interact with their personal health records will enable us to design and implement future-generation systems that will serve the needs of patients and those with whom they wish to share health information, including doctors and other trusted parties. Ultimately it will help us, as physicians, provide better care for our patients," said David A. Haggstrom, M.D., an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a research scientist with the VA’s Center of Excellence on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice in Indianapolis.
Researches reviewed four functional areas of MyHealtheVet: registration and log-in; prescription refills; tracking of self-reported health information such as colonoscopy test results and physical activity diary entries. They also looked at searches for health information about specific topics such as PTSD.
Users reported that, once they were into the secure Web-based system, they found the prescription refill function to perform better than expected. One concern, however, was that the system displayed the names of specific drugs, which could create a privacy issue in an office or public place.
Another result was the desire by patients to have information they uploaded into their personal health record, such as blood sugar or blood pressure levels over time, be downloadable as graphs that could be printed and brought to future doctor's visits. A negative was that users questioned the value of MyHealtheVet search functions over existing online health information.
|Neale Chumbler, Ph.D|
"I believe our novel, interdisciplinary-focused study yielded findings that will inform the future redesign and implementation of the VA personal health record system. Our study offered straightforward steps to tailor functions to the individual preferences of the veterans," said Neale Chumbler, Ph.D., a research scientist with the VA and a professor at the School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University.
Chumbler was the principal investigator on the VA grant that supported the research published as "Lessons Learned from Usability Testing of a Personal Health Record." The VA played no role in the study design, analysis or interpretation of data in this study, he said.