Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center
Secure Messaging - Wilkes-Barre PACT Teams
Ever imagine a day when you could securely communicate with your medical or mental health provider and your health care teams on-line from anywhere you can access the Internet? Well, for our Veteran patients here at the Wilkes-Barre 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.
Secure Messaging strengthens the partnership between Veterans and their VA Patient-Aligned Care Team (PACT). Veterans with a Premium My HealtheVet account can communicate online with their PACT between appointments. No longer is there a need to phone or drive in to get these answers.
The focus of the PACT team is to partner with Veterans with a team-based approach. The Veteran is not just the patient but a vital member of that team in providing “whole-person” care. This personalized approach establishes not only treatment of episodic and chronic illness, but an emphasis on prevention and health promotion. What is different about PACT and the way that Wilkes-Barre VAMC has been doing business? The Wilkes-Barre VAMC has been working the “team approach” for years and has always been ahead of the curve, but the PACT team offers something new. PACT brings the Veteran in collaboration with their team and makes them part of their own health solutions. One of the most important tools in this collaboration is Secure Messaging. My HealtheVet also offers Veterans access to their personal medical information and the ability to renew prescriptions online.
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 in Secure Messaging, a Veteran must: (1) first register for a My HealtheVet account (www.myhealth.va.gov); (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 the Medical Center Library or one of our outpatient clinics, show a government-issued photo ID, and complete and sign VA form 10-5345. 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 supplement 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.
For more information about signing up for My HealtheVet and Secure Messaging, please visit the following link: www.myhealth.va.gov. Or contact Sandra Dompkosky at (570) 824-3521, ext. 4297, your Wilkes-Barre VAMC My HealtheVet Coordinator.