Vets like secure email for healthcare, but want more training

A majority of veterans who use secure messaging through the Veterans Health Administrations' Web-based patient portal, My HealtheVet, find it useful, but would like to see more training provided, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Researchers polled 2,073 veterans at VA facilities in Boston and Tampa, Florida, who had used secure messaging for at least six months. They averaged 62 years in age.

The veterans found secure messaging helpful for completing medication refills (66.7 percent), managing appointments (41.9 percent), looking up test results (42.7 percent) and asking health-related questions (41.5 percent). And 8.2 percent used secure messaging to address sensitive health topics.

At the same time, 41.8 percent said secure messaging could be improved to make it more useful; 40 percent would like to receive education and/or support on how to use My HealtheVet and secure messaging to manage their healthcare; and 79.6 percent said they believe others would benefit from training and support for using those technologies.

The researchers also found that perceptions of ease of use and satisfaction differ by gender, education, income, health and eHealth literacy levels, factors that must be addressed to sustain patient use of the technology.

A recent Kaiser Permanente study found that secure email can be used to improve the overall health of patients with chronic conditions.

However, previous research concluded that safety-net hospitals in particular may need to provide training in basic computer skills and health literacy in order for patient portals to be effective with vulnerable populations.

To learn more:
- here's the research