In the Spotlight
Secure Messaging: Coming Soon to a VA Medical Center Near You
Contributed by David M. Douglas, MD (Dr. Douglas is a pioneer in Secure
He is also the My HealtheVet lead for getting Secure Messaging out to Veterans using VA health care.)
VA often asks Veterans what they would like to see added on My HealtheVet.
One of the top requests is "being able to talk online with my doctor." There
are now over a million registered users on My HealtheVet.
If you are one of the Veterans eager for this to happen, then we have good
news for you. Secure Messaging is now in use at more than 40 VA facilities.
If you are a My HealtheVet registered user and have
account, you are ready. It will be available across the entire VA by September
If you are a Veteran patient at a VA facility using Secure Messaging, you
will notice a new Secure
Messaging Tab. This tab is located on the upper right-hand corner
of My HealtheVet.
The first time you click on the Secure Messaging Tab, you will see Terms
and Conditions of Use. This information is important. Read it carefully
before you "Opt In" to use this new service. Once you Opt In, you
will be taken to your own personal Secure Messaging Inbox.
Since Secure Messaging is being rolled out in phases, your health care team
may not yet be using it. You can find out if your health care team is using
Secure Messaging by creating a new message. If you see the name of one
of your providers as a choice in the "To" field, then you know
you can send a message to the health care team led by your provider.
Depending on the Secure Message subject, your primary care provider may
not be the one to respond:
A change of address or appointment cancellation may be taken care of
by a clerk.
Questions about medications may be answered by a pharmacist working
with your provider.
Questions about symptoms may be reviewed first by a nurse,
and only referred to your primary care provider if needed.
Using Secure Messaging offers many benefits. Secure Messaging can help build
a better partnership between the Veteran and members of their health care team.
It makes sharing information about health concerns easier. Secure Messaging
is easy to use. It reduces the need for telephone calls and waiting on hold.
It is more efficient than the telephone for non-urgent issues, such as:
Have you have ever been frustrated trying to take care of these concerns
by telephone? You can now use Secure Messaging to type in your
request and "Send" it
to your health care team.
Secure Messaging is more than another way of doing business by telephone.
In the future, it may be possible for some of your appointments to take place
using Secure Messaging. This will get rid of the need to drive to a VA Medical
Center or clinic. Secure Messaging is a way for the VA to make Veteran health
care even better.
Secure Messaging is not for emergency
should only be used for
non-emergency and non-urgent matters.
Your Health Information (My HealtheVet) Do
you want to be an active partner with your health care team? Good health
care is about
you and members of your the health care team sharing information. This
may improve the care you get.
With Your Health Care Provider (My HealtheVet) If
you work as partners, you and your health care provider can come away
from each visit
feeling more satisfied.
an Active Role in Your Health (My HealtheVet) Take
an active role in your health care: learn about your health, take part
and follow the treatment plan you worked out with your health care team.
Updated/Reviewed: November 1, 2010