Online patient portal saves time, improves access to medical information
Air Force Maj. Stephanie “Jill” Raps is a busy nurse. Before departing for advanced schooling at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Raps was assigned to the Defense Health Agency where she developed digital tools to help patients, doctors, and other health care providers access information in the Military Health System. Raps spends her “free” time chasing around a 2 year old and a 4 year old. One evening as she waited outside her older daughter’s ballet class, she remembered she needed to make an appointment for a physical for her daughter’s day care.
“I looked at my watch and realized, ‘Shoot, the appointment line just closed!’” said Raps.
Rather than wait to call the next day – or worse, forget to call at all – Raps used her smartphone to access the TRICARE Online Patient Portal, also called TOL Patient Portal, a secure website that connects registered users with online health care information and services at military hospitals and clinics.
“You can access the [TOL] Patient Portal with any device, including your smartphone,” said Army Col. Richard Wilson, a division chief in the Health Information Technology directorate at the Defense Health Agency. “Users can manage appointments for themselves and their authorized family members.”
Wilson believes patients who can more easily access their own health information using TRICARE Online will be more inclined to use the health benefit.
”Beneficiaries can use the service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, instead of trying to call and book appointments at times that might not be the most convenient for our beneficiaries,” said Wilson. “This makes our patients better engaged in their own health care, which tends to produce better health outcomes.”
To access the mobile TOL Patient Portal, beneficiaries will need to register for a Department of Defense Self-Service (better known as DS) Logon account through the Defense Manpower Data Center.
The TOL Patient Portal also has a mobile prescription refill function. Soon, another feature will be activated that will provide patient access to personal health information, such as lab results, vital signs, and immunizations, to name a few.
“What we really want patients to realize is they have these awesome tools out there,” said Wilson, “that speed things up, help them become more informed, and ultimately, let them be more healthy and have a better quality of life.”
Using the mobile access of the TRICARE Online Patient Portal when it was convenient for her, Raps quickly made her daughter’s appointment while avoiding the hassle of making a phone call during limited hours, and saving time, a commodity she values greatly.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing for a military member is time. We just don’t have a lot of time,” said Raps. “This access gives me information and the time I need.”