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Veterans' Preferences for Exchanging Information Using Veterans Affairs Health Information Technologies: Focus Group Results and Modeling Simulations.

Haun JN, Chavez M, Nazi K, Antinori N, Melillo C, Cotner BA, Hathaway W, Cook A, Wilck N, Noonan A. Veterans' Preferences for Exchanging Information Using Veterans Affairs Health Information Technologies: Focus Group Results and Modeling Simulations. Journal of medical Internet research. 2017 Oct 23; 19(10):e359.

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BACKGROUND: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has multiple health information technology (HIT) resources for veterans to support their health care management. These include a patient portal, VetLink Kiosks, mobile apps, and telehealth services. The veteran patient population has a variety of needs and preferences that can inform current VA HIT redesign efforts to meet consumer needs. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe veterans'' experiences using the current VA HIT and identify their vision for the future of an integrated VA HIT system. METHODS: Two rounds of focus group interviews were conducted with a single cohort of 47 veterans and one female caregiver recruited from Bedford, Massachusetts, and Tampa, Florida. Focus group interviews included simulation modeling activities and a self-administered survey. This study also used an expert panel group to provide data and input throughout the study process. High-fidelity, interactive simulations were created and used to facilitate collection of qualitative data. The simulations were developed based on system requirements, data collected through operational efforts, and participants'' reported preferences for using VA HIT. Pairwise comparison activities of HIT resources were conducted with both focus groups and the expert panel. Rapid iterative content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. Descriptive statistics summarized quantitative data. RESULTS: Data themes included (1) current use of VA HIT, (2) non-VA HIT use, and (3) preferences for future use of VA HIT. Data indicated that, although the Secure Messaging feature was often preferred, a full range of HIT options are needed. These data were then used to develop veteran-driven simulations that illustrate user needs and expectations when using a HIT system and services to access VA health care services. CONCLUSIONS: Patient participant redesign processes present critical opportunities for creating a human-centered design. Veterans value virtual health care options and prefer standardized, integrated, and synchronized user-friendly interface designs.

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