Updated at 5:25 p.m. — Inova Health Systems does not conduct credit checks when people looking to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine appointment create an account on its MyChart patient portal, a spokesperson told Tysons Reporter.
The spokesperson clarified that Inova does an identity verfication check to ensure that patient information is accurate since the healthcare system is working off of the Fairfax County Health Department’s registration queue.
Inova also says that people have the option to upload a photo of their health insurance card, but it is not required to create a MyChart account.
“There’s nothing more important to us than vaccinating as many people as possible, but we need to make sure we’re doing so in a safe, reliable, and secure way,” Inova Chief Communications Officer Tracey Schroeder said, noting that Inova has administered a total of over 186,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots.
Inova says MyChart gives it a way to confirm patient identities and report data on COVID-19 vaccinations to the Virginia Department of Health as required by the state.
Earlier: While Fairfax County has smoothed out many of the issues that plagued the early rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine registration system, frustrations have now emerged around a key partner in the county’s vaccination efforts: the Inova Health System.
Eligible Fairfax County residents can get in line for a vaccine appointment with Inova by pre-registering through the county’s health department, but to actually schedule the appointment, the healthcare system requires that individuals create an account for its MyChart patient portal, a process that county leaders say is overly demanding in the type of information people are expected to provide.
During a health and human services committee meeting on Tuesday (Mar. 2), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors urged county staff to work with Inova to address concerns about its scheduling process, which Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said seems to be “a bit more intrusive in their questions.”
“If you go through the county, it’s a beautiful process at this point. If you go through Inova, it is very troubling,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said. “Some people are refusing to go through that process, and that just puts it back on our health department to try to figure out what to do with those people, so something needs to be done.”
To create a MyChart account, users must undergo a credit check and upload a photo of their health insurance card, which could be challenging for people who don’t have a smartphone or are inexperienced with using that technology. (Correction: Inova says that it conducts a patient identity check, not a credit check, and that the option to upload a photo of a health insurance card is not mandatory)
The sign-up form also asks for the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number, though an astrisked note clarifies that it is not required.
According to Inova, this information is requested to verify patients’ identities, and it has no impact on a person’s insurance or credit score.
“MyChart provides for a more reliable registration system and a more consistent patient/user experience,” Inova said in a statement to Tysons Reporter. “Use of MyChart helps us to better manage appointments, vaccine supply, and to provide more accurate data to the [Virginia] Health Department. It also enables same day scheduling — which the health department’s system does not — so if there are cancellations, someone can fill that vacant slot.”
Inova says it has been modifying the registration and scheduling process based on user feedback.
“Maintaining a positive patient experience is important to us,” Inova said. “We’ve been listening to feedback and making changes to streamline the registration process while also balancing the imperative to verify patient identify and protect personal medical information.”
The Fairfax County Health Department confirmed that it is working with Inova to resolve these concerns.
Inova is currently assisting the county in vaccinating residents between the ages of 65 and 74. The healthcare system has also hosted clinics for eligible essential workers, including public school teachers and staff, and emergency first responders.
The county health department has emphasized that people should not let questions about health insurance deter them from getting vaccinated, stating that the COVID-19 vaccines are free but some providers will ask for the information in order to collect administrative fees from the insurance company.
Fairfax County leaders fear that confusion stemming from differences in the registration and scheduling process used by various providers could make administering the COVID-19 vaccine more difficult.
“We are already hearing from people that proof of medical insurance or proof of residency or citizenship are being required,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “Frankly, my opinion is we shouldn’t be partnering with folks who have to do that deep of a probe or else we’re building even more hesitancy problems in the future.”
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