Ever imagine a day when you could securely communicate with your doctor and health care team about your recent lab results, reschedule appointments, or renew medications? Well, for our Veteran patients here at the Long Beach VAMC, that day has arrived! Secure Messaging, a vital component of the My HealtheVet Program, is a web-based message system allowing participating VA patients and VA health care teams to communicate non-urgent health-related information in a safe computer environment. Any provider may elect to participate in Secure Messaging. Secure Messaging will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through the www.myhealth.va.gov portal.
So, what exactly is Secure Messaging?
• Electronic, bi-directional communication – similar to regular email, but more secure
• Encrypted, secure messages within My HealtheVet
• Triage messages across a health care team
• Unlike the telephone, users can communicate at their own convenience
To participate, a patient Veteran must: (1) first register for a My HealtheVet account; (2) become IPA'd (In-Person Authenticated) by a Secure Messaging Administrator; and finally, (3) Opt-In to Secure Messaging with their Healthcare team. In order to complete the IPA process, VA patients must visit their local VA facility, show a government-issued photo ID, watch the My HealtheVet Orientation video, and complete and sign VA form 10-5345a. Their health care provider must also be a participant of Secure Messaging. Once these conditions are met, the Veteran patient may then begin to communicate securely with their providers.
Recent polls have shown that Secure Messaging has received very favorable reviews from Veterans and staff alike. Secure Messaging offers staff various workload efficiencies, and most who have used the program believe it offers significant time savings. Secure Messaging can be a substitute for routine outpatient visits, and serve as an enhanced communication tool for patients with chronic illnesses. It has also been shown that patient Veterans feel they have a greater connection and get more individualized care with their health care team when they utilize Secure Messaging.
Currently, the My HealtheVet "Blue Button" allows a Veteran to see all VA prescription names, past and present. Veterans can view/print this information to give to outside providers, saving them considerable time and effort. Additional Blue Button functionalities are coming soon; key health information such as when their last Tetanus shot was, or what their blood pressure reading was in June 2010 will be available to all VA patients who go through the My HealtheVet IPA process.
For more information about signing up for My HealtheVet and Secure Messaging, please visit the following link: www.myhealth.va.gov. Or, you may contact Brian Grace at (562) 826-8000, ext. 2563, your VAMC Long Beach My HealtheVet Coordinator, or Rene Haas, VAMC Long Beach Patient Education Coordinator at (562) 826-8000, ext. 2322.