VA program adds veterans' personal narratives to EHR

The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding its My Life, My Story program, which aims to help veterans connect their personal stories with VA healthcare providers through the EHR, Wisconsin Public Radio reports.

The program, which was implemented in 2012 at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, Wis., is now being implemented at 40 additional VA hospitals throughout the country, according to the report.

Thor Ringler, a writer/editor at the Madison-based VA hospital, manages the program. Through My Life, My Story, Mr. Ringler, along with VA staff and trained volunteers, conduct interviews with veteran patients and write brief, first-person stories about the veterans' lives. The stories are then added to the VA hospital's EHR, where the patient's physicians and care team can access it.

In a 2017 survey conducted at the Madison VA, 85 percent of clinicians said that reading the patients' stories has helped them improve patient care and has been a "good use of clinical time," according to the report.

Since the program launched, Mr. Ringler has interviewed more than 2,000 patients at Madison's VA hospital alone, according to the report. Adding patients' life stories to their medical records can help providers work to establish a personal relationship with their patients, Mr. Ringler told Wisconsin Public Radio.

"It's giving providers a better sense who their patient was and how to talk to them," Mr. Ringler said.

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