The integrated campaign we launched at five Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facilities in 2012 teamed telehealth, technology and
communications, but it was the team approach that made this project so exciting and personal for me.
As a career public affairs specialist with VA, I often call myself a “PR purist,” always relying on the foundations of Research, Planning, Implementation
and Execution or “RPIE” to guide me in supporting outreach and communications that serve internal and external stakeholders of VA.
In October 2011, I was selected as one of 200 or so “Excellence in Government” (EIG) employees throughout the federal government, embarking on a leadership
journey and determined to make “communications” and “public affairs” more integrated into the core of government leadership. When it was time to put theory
into practice, I found myself doing what I do…designing a quality improvement project to “prove” that the foundation of any good communication is based on
solid research, a clear message that resonates with the target audience, guided by leadership buy-in.
To me, PR is a team sport and this EIG project demonstrated that. VA’s online Personal Health Record, My HealtheVet, offering veterans a portal to access their medical history, refill
prescriptions and track their health goals served as our project’s focus. While many Veterans use My HealtheVet to review and
print health records, new features that allow Veterans to take a more active role in their health care were still relatively unknown to Veterans and
therefore under-utilized. Our EIG Team, comprised of myself and five clinical counterparts from around the country, piloted a program to increase
enrollment in Secure Messaging, a secure and convenient tool for Veterans to communicate with their health care team in between visits, scheduled for June
We successfully developed a cost-effective communications program to increase veteran participation by encouraging existing users to upgrade to secure
messaging and enrolling non-users in My HealtheVet and secure messaging at once. But more importantly, we engaged the talents of
one another and guided the project with “boots on the ground” expertise, stretched our leadership skills and motivated point of care staff to be part of
Because this campaign used existing content, successfully impacted VA performance metrics and far exceeded our expectations, while foundationally adhering
to core PR principals, I decided that I’d take a chance and submit our work for consideration for the PRSA Health Academy.
The presentation on “My HealtheVet and secure messaging putting health care in the hands of veteran patients” lessons learned
will help participants peel away the layers of centralized, traditional outreach and uncover the core of strong, action-oriented, engaging messages that
focus on point of care communication, but also include other vehicles essential to diffusing key messages.
Stacie M. Rivera will be presenting at the PRSA Health Academy Conference in Indianapolis on May 1-3.
Register today and join us at the PRSA conference.