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JBSA News
NEWS | April 2, 2014

Air Force's secure healthcare messaging, MiCare, now fully implemented

By Jonathan Stock Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

The Air Force has recently completed implementing of its secure healthcare-messaging system, MiCare, in all 76 of its medical treatment facilities worldwide.

As of March 1, more than 360,000 Air Force healthcare beneficiaries and 2,300 providers have signed up for this service, which allows the patient and provider to communicate on a secure network regarding non-urgent healthcare concerns.

The MiCare network also allows beneficiaries to view their healthcare records, make appointments, fill prescriptions, as well as allowing providers to push important preventative care updates to the members.

Overall, Airmen, their families and beneficiaries using MiCare can expect a decrease in trips to the MTF and more personal communication with their healthcare team.

"At the beginning of MiCare's deployment, MTFs were instructed to have 25 percent of beneficiaries empaneled by three months and 50 percent within a year," said Maria Faison, Nurse Informatics, MiCare Project Manager, Air Force Medical Operations Agency . "However, we have had many MTFs surpass this goal within a couple months because the portal's processes are now updated to allow users to E-register and be transferred more easily between MTFs during PCS season."

Many MTFs have been marketing MiCare and the reasons to use it to their beneficiaries. Clinics have been placing posters and updating their waiting-room videos to include MiCare information. Some are even creating videos to place on YouTube.

Although many MiCare programs have not been up and running until recently, a few bases currently leading in participation are Dyess Air Force Base with 63 percent of patients, followed closely by Hurlburt Field, Robins and Maxwell AFBs. The Pentagon has just reported more than 50 percent participation in the program.

"These bases have had the support of leadership and are utilizing high performance teams from within to constantly monitor their progress and improve local practices to make MiCare a more effective system," Faison said.

Although they use different names for their secure messaging systems, both the Army and Navy have made considerable progress signing up users. Both services have roughly 523,000 users combined, as of Feb. 28, 2014. This joint venture has more than 850,000 combined users through all services, as well as 7,600 providers and more than 17,500 primary care team members using the system.

The civilian sector is also moving towards offering more patient portals since this service will assist their beneficiaries to make smart non-urgent care decisions rather than sitting in a waiting room or going to an urgent care facility.

"So far everyone is hitting the same roadblocks on trying to increase participation further where there is reluctance to trust new technology," said Col. Gwendolyn Johnson, Deputy for Clinical and Business Analysis Division, MiCare Project lead, Air Force Medical Operations Agency. "The best tools to break the barriers are education and internal marketing. If the staff can realize how MiCare can empower and engage our patients, then their enthusiasm will show and increase more patient enrollment."

A recent secure messaging satisfaction survey demonstrated that 97 percent of over 13,000 respondents were satisfied with their secure messaging transaction and more than 86 percent agreed it helped them avoid a trip to an emergency room or an MTF for medical problems.

To find out more about MiCare visit http://www.afms.af.mil/MiCare or ask your healthcare team during your next visit.