WASHINGTON, D.C. — TRICARE Online and MiCare Secure Messaging may seem to offer the same services, but there are important differences to these software tools, which are designed to enhance access to care for all military beneficiaries.
“Both programs are endorsed by the Military Heath System, and although they may seem very similar, in actuality there are a few differences,” said Col. Gwendolyn Johnson, the chief of Air Force secure messaging at the Air Force Medical Operations Agency. “While they do have some features in common, it is up to our beneficiaries to decide which tool they desire to use.”
In both TRICARE Online and MiCare, beneficiaries can validate medication lists and obtain test results, including labs. Both systems can facilitate appointments. With TRICARE Online, beneficiaries can schedule available appointments themselves, whereas with MiCare, beneficiaries can request appointments via secure messaging. Once the appointment request is made, clinic staff will schedule an appointment with the provider as soon as possible.
Another great feature with TRICARE Online is that it allows patients to track their claims and deductibles, and to obtain proof of medical insurance. This is because TRICARE is for medical insurance coverage and addresses issues and tasks related to activities that involve health-care insurance, explained Johnson.
In comparison, MiCare is focused on secure messaging communication between patients and their health-care teams.
“Using secure messaging promotes better access to care for patients who need clinical advice or assistance from their health-care teams,” Johnson said. “This is one of the reasons MiCare is considered a valued service across the military health system. Not only does MiCare ease communication between patients and clinical staff, it also allows patients to access robust patient education materials regarding their medical conditions or illnesses.”
An additional unique feature of MiCare is the “Health Record” or “Personal Health Record.” This tool can be used to collect, track and share past and current information of the beneficiary’s health. For example, when referred to new off-base medical providers for care, the personal health record is a source of health information which can prevent providers from repeating routine medical tests that have already been done and documented in the personal health record. This feature enables off-base medical providers to have more insight into the personal health story of their patients.
“It may initially seem confusing that there (are) both TRICARE Online and MiCare, but each tool has its potential benefits for those patients who desire to use them,” Johnson said. “Even though beneficiaries may use either tool to schedule an appointment or review their lab results, only MiCare can be used for secure communication to the health-care team.”
For more information on TRICARE Online and MiCare Secure Messaging, contact a local military treatment facility.