Clinic reaches MiCare registration goal, seeks more participation

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

5/23/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, AL  -- More than 4,250 patients at Maxwell's 42nd Medical Group have enrolled into the secure messaging system, MiCare, exceeding the clinic's six-month goal of 25 percent registration since the program was implemented almost a year ago.

Now, Maj. Phillip Douglas, senior 42nd Medical Group practice manager, and the clinic staff are looking to increase that statistic to 50 percent enrollment by June 15. The clinic's ultimate goal is to enroll its entire 16,000 patient population into MiCare, which he says is an important link between patient and healthcare providers.

"The more patients that are enrolled, the easier it will be for us to communicate with them, either individually or as a group," said Douglas. "We'd like to see maximum participation, because the more patients participate, the more we can practice asynchronous medicine where we can engage our patients through multiple platforms."

Implemented at Maxwell in June 2012, MiCare is a tri-service system, covering the Air Force, Navy and Army, and was originally created to build stronger relations between medical staff and patients. MiCare is a great way to offer health care beneficiaries and patients an additional form of communication besides the traditional phone calls and face-to-face visits, according to Col. Marina Ray, 42nd Medical Group commander.

"MiCare is a quick, convenient way for patients to communicate with their health care team," she said. "It saves patients time since they are not waiting on the phone for the appointment line to answer and put in a telephone consult to the provider. MiCare eliminates the 'middle man,' because you are communicating with your provider team directly via computer."

Through MiCare, patients can request an appointment or a medication refill, view lab or test results and communicate directly with the medical team similar to an email correspondence. Patients will receive responses to any non-emergency inquiries promptly, according to Douglas.

"We strive to answer messages in less than 72 hours and depending on the particular issue, within hours of receipt of the patient's message," he said. "As soon as you send [the message], our team gets it."

Through enrolling in the program, patients will not have to worry about missed phone calls or forgetting or misunderstanding verbal medical advice since they will receive printable notes. They will also have the convenience of communicating with their health care team from their home, eliminating traffic or parking delays or missed days at work that usually accompany a physical visit to the clinic, according to Douglas.

MiCare is available to registered patients anywhere there is Internet access, including smartphones. Patients will also have access to a large library of medical education materials through their accounts.

To enroll, patients can fill out a registration form provided at any clinic desk. Once clinic personnel receive the patient information, they will invite the patients through their email account, where patients will create a username and password, giving them access to the program.

When service members have a permanent change of station, they must adjust their account so they can communicate with their new medical treatment facility. By visiting their new MTF and requesting to "join a practice" within their account, they can establish a line of communication.