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Mobile app for My Health at Vanderbilt expands access options

Aug. 11, 2016, 9:53 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s secure online patient portal, My Health at Vanderbilt (MHAV), is now even more accessible to patients with the launch of a new mobile app.

The MHAV online site was created in 2005 to support patient engagement with Vanderbilt medical care. It gives patients and their caregivers the ability to send and receive secure messages with their health care team, as well as review lab results, vaccination records, information on clinical trials and important consumer health information. Patients can also use the portal to request appointments and pay medical bills.

A newly launched mobile app will help My Health at Vanderbilt users easily access their health information.
A newly launched mobile app will help My Health at Vanderbilt users easily access their health information.

“My Health at Vanderbilt is really our crown jewel patient engagement technology, and the mobile app is a natural extension of that,” said Trent Rosenbloom, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics, Medicine and Pediatrics. He directs the development of MHAV. “We’re increasingly in a mobile-first world, and the app’s development was driven by patient demand.”

Key improvements with the mobile app include:

• Mobility: The technology travels with users and fits in pockets.

• Easier sign on: Rather than having to remember a password, users can set up a PIN or use their thumbprint for access.

• Mapping: Users can access a street map and directions to an appointment location with just one click.

• Adding calendar events: Medical appointments can be quickly added to a user’s electronic calendar.

• Improved graphs: Users can view lab result trends over time with graphs that are easier to read than the old format.

Statistics show that about 50 percent of visitors to the main VUMC website access the site from mobile devices, said Betsy Brandes, director of Digital and Design at VUMC. The expectation is that the figure would hold true for the MHAV site. Approximately 350,000 individuals have signed up for a MHAV account since the service began, and there are about 150,000 unique users each year. This represents about a third of all Vanderbilt patients, but if specific patient populations are considered, such as those receiving treatment for a chronic illness, usage numbers climb to 60-80 percent, Rosenbloom said.

Parents of chronically ill children, who can set up surrogate access to their child’s medical records, are also large users of MHAV. Currently, approximately 10 percent of Vanderbilt’s pediatric patients have these relationships established, and it’s estimated that more than 10,000 parents have logged into MHAV nearly 270,000 times in July alone. And while mobile technology definitely benefits those with hectic schedules, there are other populations VUMC leaders hope to reach with the new mobile app.

“There is a large population of our patients who do not have easy access to full, desktop computers but who instead access the internet from a smartphone,” said Jared Cobb, Ph.D., clinical care portfolio director with HealthIT. “These individuals tend to be from certain socioeconomic and demographic groups that we really want to engage with My Health at Vanderbilt.”

A national survey released in February 2016 showed that while the vast majority of low- and moderate-income families are connected to the internet (94 percent), many rely on mobile-only access (23 percent) and more than half (52 percent) of those with home internet access say it is too slow. More than a quarter of those surveyed said too many people share the same computer, and one-fifth said their internet had been cut off in the last year due to lack of payment.

The survey results were based on telephone interviews of 1,200 parents of children, ages 6 to 13, with household incomes below the national median and was conducted by Rutgers University and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.

The free My Health at Vanderbilt app can be downloaded through the Apple app store for iPhones or through the Google Play store for Android phones. Search for My Health at Vanderbilt or MHAV.

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