29 Sep

The VA, Health Care, Kevin Bacon, and you!

1024px-Actor_Kevin_Bacon

Maybe you’re a Veteran, maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re Kevin Bacon. OK, probably not.  No matter who you are, you should know a few things about the VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).

MyHealtheVet Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is a parlor game based on the “six degrees of separation” concept, which hypothesizes that any two people on Earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart.  So, you may not be a Veteran, or know a Vet, but odds are you know someone who knows one.  This blog series will provide information on VA programs and benefits that may be available to you or someone you know.  First up, a great online program called MyHealtheVet.

My HealtheVet is a great program to track and store your medical information, search health related topics and more.  While some of the features are only for Veterans, there are many features available to anyone, even Kevin Bacon!  Let’s take a look at what the basic account (available to all) offers.

  • Self-enter your personal information, such as emergency contacts, health care providers, and health insurance information – Forgot your insurance card? No problem, you can look it up here too!
  • Build your secure personal health record by self-entering your medications, allergies, medical events, tests, etc. – Forgot your prescription bottle? Hop on your smart phone and look it up!
  • Record and track your personal health measures, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, heart rate, temperature, weight, pain, and more.
  • Print a wallet identification (ID) card with the personal information you self-entered on the Profiles page under the Personal Information tab.
  • View, print or download your data using the VA Blue Button – great when you are seeing a new doctor outside the VA, or in an emergency situation.
  • Identify, set and track your personal goals.  “My Goals” is an interactive Web-based tool that gives you the power to be an active participant in your care. It also offers steps that help you overcome the common difficulties people have reaching their goals.
  • Keep a record of your and your family members’ health using Health History. You self-enter all health information.  Forgot what meds your kiddos are taking? No problem!
  • Research medical topics using the Medical Libraries – two libraries: MedlinePlus and Veterans Health Library — are available for your use in the MyHealtheVet program.

Veterans/VA patients may opt for an Advanced Account that provides a higher level of access.

  • View VA prescription history
  • Refill VA medications online and have them delivered to your home

Veterans with a Premium Account, which requires identity validation, have even more options.

  • View part of your official VA health record
  • Use secure messaging to communicate with your VA Health Care Team and Staff
  • View your DoD Military Service Information(if available in DoD’s electronic records)
  • View your scheduled VA Appointments
  • Receive appointment reminders from your VA provider
  • View wellness reminders for those of us who forget it’s time for a flu shot, cholesterol check, mammogram, etc.

To get your very own MyHealtheVet account, go to http://myhealth.va.gov and click on the “Register Today” button on the right side of the page.

Summary

I love the features MyHealtheVet offers, especially having my family’s important medical information only as far away as my smartphone (usually less than a foot).  In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m forgetful!  Even if you have a memory like an elephant (lucky you), there is still great benefit in the program, so give it a try, share with your friends, and by all means, if you know a Vet, share your newfound knowledge with them.

Photo Credit: Danielle M. Bacon, U.S. Marine Corps (http://www.marines.mil/; VIRIN: 090210-M-0761B-001)