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Accessing My HealtheVet as both a VA physician and patient

As a family physician, Dr. Randall Gehle is in constant communication with the Veterans in his care through My HealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. His patients can use the Secure Messaging feature to reach out to him directly with any routine medical questions or concerns. Gehle messages an average of 20 patients each day.

But as a Veteran himself, Gehle has the unique experience of also using My HealtheVet to coordinate his own care with his VA care team. Gehle understands both the patient and health care professional side of the portal, and he uses this knowledge to improve his patients’ care.

“From the provider side, I love that My HealtheVet allows me to have access to my patients, their questions and their needs at all times wherever I am. And then as a patient, I schedule my appointments, request refill prescriptions and do everything regarding my care through My HealtheVet,” Gehle said.

Providing personal, quality care

Gehle is not only practicing as a family physician but also serving as the chief of Staff for the W.G. (Bill) Hefner Salisbury VA in North Carolina. He is constantly traveling throughout the state during the week. Whether he is in Charlotte, Kernersville or Salisbury, Gehle uses My HealtheVet to continue serving his patients.

“My patients don’t have to worry about not being able to reach their doctor. They feel comfortable knowing that they’re communicating directly with me,” he said.

Gehle said that most patients see their primary care physician an average of two times a year. My HealtheVet enables patients to keep their VA care team up to date on their health in between appointments.

Gehle has been able to identify skin cancers from images sent through My HealtheVet and then recommend next steps for care. He has also managed blood pressure adjustments and prevented patients from needlessly going to the emergency room.

“My HealtheVet is such a useful tool. My patients are telling me what they need and then I can respond. And if I need additional information, they can answer my questions and we can have a dialogue via Secure Messaging,” he said.

Knowing the patient portal

Gehle served as a Marine battalion surgeon during the Gulf War. As a Veteran, he too uses My HealtheVet to manage his care and message his VA care team.

This unique perspective is valuable to other VA health care professionals. He has shared his experience with My HealtheVet at conferences and leadership development programs. He provides key insights, shares realistic expectations about the patient experience and suggests potential improvements.

“I’ve been able to open up My HealtheVet during these events and show people exactly what I could see from the patient side and teach them what My HealtheVet could or couldn’t do. They learn from that and find it very useful. It makes me more functional as a member of these teams,” he continued.

Gehle believes My HealtheVet has enabled him to deliver and receive better care. Using it for over a decade, he has enjoyed seeing it change and improve to better fit the patient experience.

“My HealtheVet continues to improve. Every time I explore it, I see something new and something exciting about the services it provides.” To learn more about the patient portal, visit the My HealtheVet homepage.

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