Patient Portals that Work


Recently I took my father, a US Army Vietnam Veteran, to the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital for a minor procedure with a new doctor. I was surprised when he thought my suggested departure time was way too early. After all, I knew we had to allow time to fill out the dreaded paperwork beforehand. I thought for sure he would not have enough time to check in. I was wrong.

Turns out that the VA is far ahead of the rest of the US medical industry when it comes to electronic medical records and appointment check-ins. As a civilian, every time I have to go to a doctor I have to fill out the same paperwork every time. Medical History. Insurance information. HIPAA acknowledgments. Privacy forms.

As I fill out these papers by hand I always wonder why they can’t be electronic.

Imagine my surprise when we walked into the VA Hospital and instead of going to a counter my dad went to a small kiosk about 4 feet high with a touchscreen tablet attached. He simply pulled out his VA identification card that has his photo and a barcode and placed it under a scanner. Boom. Just like that he pushes “Check-In” and he’s done. Seriously, he’s done. No more paperwork. Nada.

It was so simple and easy that my septuagenarian dad, who never had a job that required working on a computer, could use it without any problems.

At the core of its simplicity is the patient portal known as My Health eVet where all of the patient’s health records are stored in one central location. This means the patient doesn’t have to fill out a new health history form for each doctor.

The portal user interface itself is a bit dated and lacking in aesthetics but what makes this work is the fact that the doctors are also able to access this health history. Think of the possibilities and cost savings if the civilian medical industry could develop a similar program. Amazing what a little digital collaboration can do.

Susan Thayer


Susan is an experienced CRM and digital marketing consultant with nearly 15 years of managing discovery, implementation and strategic use of CRM solutions and related programs. Prior to joining the consulting world, she served as director of marketing and other leadership roles for leading businesses in both the B2B and Consumer Goods industries. Past corporate employment includes digital marketing and e-commerce for a leading global auto parts corporation, medical products and a website design firm. Susan is a current board member for the Junior League of Lincoln and President of her HOA. She is a past board member for the American Marketing Association of Lincoln and past Public Relations Officer for the state of Arizona Toastmasters.

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