MHS Virtual Education Center empowers patients to improve outcomes

Army Col. (Dr.) Maria Molina provides insight on the latest MHS digital resource for patients.
Army Col. (Dr.) Maria Molina provides insight on the latest MHS digital resource for patients.

MHS Virtual Education Center empowers patients to improve outcomes

by Army Col. (Dr.) Maria Molina
MHS Virtual Education Center

As providers, we seek to empower patients to engage in their health care planning and decision-making to help improve outcomes.

To support this aim, the Defense Health Agency is developing the Virtual Education Center (pronounced “vek”). This web-based library and communications platform enables providers and patients to access, store, and use vetted MHS education resources more easily than ever before.

The current prototype is designed to promote a culture of proactive prevention and collaboration through quality education. Over the next three years, the system will be tested and integrated with MHS GENESIS, the Department of Defense’s new electronic health record.

With the VEC, providers and patients can customize personal digital dashboards that provide securely access anywhere and use wherever they are stationed or happen to be. The dashboards enable sharing written, audio, visual, and interactive educational materials in ways that work best for providers and patients alike.

The VEC ensures patients have the awareness, knowledge, and willingness to use MHS education resources effectively. This will help save time, improve processes, and remove barriers to care.

The VEC offers MHS providers opportunities to improve all care, both virtual and in-person. We know patients will have the material, that they won’t lose it, and if they have reviewed it.

The system should increase provider efficiency, decrease meeting times and unnecessary visits, and reduce readmissions and other adverse outcomes related to common diseases. This should help increase patients’ engagement in their care and overall satisfaction with providers.

Quick, Integrated Access

The VEC pulls all MHS educational work into one system so all providers and beneficiaries can access health information validated by the MHS clinical communities.

Providers can pick materials from a variety of sources, such as the VEC’s MHS-wide resource library, materials they created, or materials from their primary facilities.

Eventually, military hospitals and clinics and the DHA will be able to send tailored announcements about events, site-specific resources, and other vital information through the VEC.

Using the VEC is designed to be easy. When I need to share materials with a patient, I go to my VEC dashboard, click on the materials I want to share, enter the patient’s email or phone number, and click Send.

The patient gets the email or text message on the device of their choice and opens a link to access the materials on their dashboard. The system sends reminders to alert the patient of the new message and notifies me when the patient has read the material.

Patients will be able to search the VEC resources, save them to their own folders, and share information just as easily as their providers can with their families and caregivers. These capabilities and others will encourage patients to proactively engage in their own care.

Rollout and Next Steps

The VEC aligns to the MHS’ Ready Reliable Care initiative, and is designed to be the MHS’ first standardized patient education service and content library for military beneficiaries. Work on the Phase One prototype is nearly complete and the MHS is already planning a six-month Phase Two pilot phase for this summer in the San Antonio market.

For the pilot, five military hospitals and clinics will use the VEC prototype and provide feedback to improve the system for Phase Three. Phase Three will aim to achieve full operating capability – including integration with MHS GENESIS – across the MHS within two years.

Going the Extra Mile

MHS providers want to do what's best for patients by giving them all the information they need to make informed decisions.

Instead of having to write down a website, find a QR code, or find information on a patient’s current diagnosis or treatment, providers can quickly and easily send all that material to their patients from the VEC.

For MHS providers, the VEC enables us to go the extra mile that we always want to without increasing our work burden – and helping ensure patients get the care they deserve.

And more importantly, the flow of information through the VEC to patient will be just clicks away.

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