Building a targeted, supportive system for veterans and their caregivers to help them better navigate their health and the services available inside the Veteran’s Administration.
The Veteran’s Administration (VA) wanted to improve their My Health eVet system. This system is made available to veterans and their caregivers to keep all health-related information in one location. The goal was to give them a one-stop location for access to their key health data, which in turn, will help them be better prepared for their VA health visits.
I facilitated discussions with dozens of veterans and their caregivers in six cities around the country. These brave men and women told me about what it was like to be a veteran and how challenging it could be to navigate their care within the VA system, particularly for more complex medical needs. Once I established trust with them, they really opened up about their conditions, their experiences since returning from active duty, and their sheer determination to ensure that other veterans who came after them had an easier time than they had. They wanted to be better advocates: for themselves and for their fellow veterans. They wanted to lighten the load for their caregivers at home, as well. Because I went deep, I was able to truly understand their drive and their goals. They wanted things simply stated and easy to find. They wanted their information grouped in ways that made sense to them and their caregivers, rather than the doctors and nurses.
I had done a lot of research work prior to these sessions, but this project was and remains the most emotionally intense work I have ever done. This work so opened my eyes that to this day, I continue to personally support a number of veterans’ charities.
My research fed design concepts which I validated on return visits. These concepts were developed into a full requirements pack with interactive prototypes which were shared with potential implementation partners as part of the bidding process. The system was eventually developed and is still available today at http://myhealth.va.gov. It has undergone some evolutionary changes since my work, but the simplified and streamlined navigation to/within key functions (pharmacy, appointments, communication to your care team, and access to your medical records) were design recommendations that came from those initial interviews.