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NEWS | Feb. 15, 2012

Air Force Medical Service turns to secure messaging

By Gary Pomeroy and Jon Stock Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

Patients at Air Force medical treatment facilities will soon be able to communicate securely and privately with their health care teams anywhere and anytime due to the Air Force-wide expansion of secure messaging.

Secure messaging will be available to patients through what is known as the MiCare portal. The MiCare portal is built to facilitate secure, online communications between patients and their healthcare team.

The goal of MiCare is to improve the quality of healthcare that patients receive and provide a mechanism for patients to have better access to their own health information at whatever time is most convenient to them. MiCare will streamline communication and access to information between office visits, reducing the frequency of office visits for some patients. It will also reduce reliance on telephone calls, providing more convenience for the patients, AFMS officials said.

"MiCare will make routine health care more convenient for our patients, while reducing unnecessary visits to the MTF, thus freeing up our providers to see more acute patients. This is an important goal in Air Force Patient-Centered Medical Home," said Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Charles B. Green, Air Force Surgeon General.

Benefits from MiCare's secure messaging tool include patient access anytime, anywhere to:

· Communicate privately with their healthcare team online without waiting in phone trees or playing phone tag
· Ask their healthcare team for advice about non-urgent symptoms
· Receive medical test and lab results
· Request medication renewals
· Request a copy of immunization records
· Access physician-approved health resource links at their convenience

The healthcare team will be able to contact patients via MiCare to provide:

· Appointment reminders
· Follow up on a condition without requiring a trip to the MTF
· Medication alerts/refill information
· Medical test and referral results
· Notifications regarding Flu vaccinations, school and sports physicals, MTF closure dates, etc.

In addition, according to Air Force Medical Service officials, in the near future MiCare will offer patients secure access to their personal health record (PHR). The PHR feature will allow patients to capture medical information in a central, online location. Officials emphasized that this has not been an option for patients in the past, making it difficult for them to keep track of health information coming from different doctors, treatment locations, emergency providers and overseas stations.

Since MiCare is a patient-driven service, the beneficiary must register with their MTF to have an active account. MiCare deployment to Air Force hospitals and clinics is underway and will progress through the remainder of 2012. In the coming months more information will be coming directly from the MTF regarding when MiCare will become available at each base and what to expect when MiCare arrives.

To find out more, please visit or ask your local MTF when it will be available to you.