It’s no secret that effective communication promotes a better health care experience. Fortunately, VA’s Connected Care virtual health technologies, such as Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet, make it easier for Veterans to communicate with their providers between appointments.

Before this technology, patient interactions with their providers were limited to scheduled appointment times. Thanks to Secure Messaging, providers can now engage with patients 24/7 in a secure, online environment while also minimizing “telephone tag.”

Enhances communication

Many VA health providers find Secure Messaging a valuable resource for communicating with patients. Dr. Debra Bailey, director of Women’s Health at VA Western Colorado Health Care System, says she enjoys this tool for many of the same reasons patients do – it improves patient access to health care, increases provider efficiency and limits Veteran frustration.

“It’s an extension to build trust and answer questions readily,” said Dr. Bailey. “This tool is not meant to replace needed face-to-face visits, but it’s a wonderful tool to clarify visits, respond to questions after visits, follow up on lab tests or imaging and clarify consults.”

Secure Messaging can also decrease the time a patient spends trying to get answers over the phone.

My HealtheVet Secure Messaging graphic“It’s convenient”

Many Veterans describe a sense of collaboration with their providers and place greater trust in the relationship when using Secure Messaging. They can ask providers non-urgent and non-emergency health-related questions, request VA referrals and medication renewals, manage VA appointments and provide health condition updates to their health care team.

“The biggest thing is it’s convenient,” said Marine Corps Veteran Edward Joseph Wacker. “I requested an appointment, and they got right back to me.”

Not only does Wacker communicate with his health care team via Secure Messaging, he frequently uses the My HealtheVet site as a resource for his health care questions.

“I can get full lab reports if I want. I can request reports of the x-rays, which I think is very valuable for me,” Wacker said.

Improves the patient experience

In addition to improving the patient-provider relationship, Secure Messaging supports VA’s integrated team approach. Physicians are kept in the loop with their patients and can triage or contact other specialists, nurses, telehealth technicians or social workers with patient concerns.

Secure Messaging makes it possible for providers to “Own the Moment” even through the COVID-19 pandemic by enabling them to connect with their patients in these challenging times while simultaneously providing excellent care and patient experiences.

Providers can deliver care to patients where and when they need it, fulfilling the guiding principle to “Understand and Respond to Needs.” By feeling more connected to their providers, patients often report higher satisfaction levels and increased involvement in self-managing their conditions. This suggests Secure Messaging is a mechanism providers can use to strengthen patient engagement and improve the patient experience.

Providers can also receive workload credit for documenting clinical decision-making for online evaluations of non-urgent clinical issues through Secure Messaging.

Secure Messaging has become a critical component in how providers practice medicine – it enhances communication, saves time and facilitates health care delivery.

Now is the time

Best of all, Veterans love the program because it’s patient-driven.

When asked what he thinks about the program, Wacker responded, “It’s amazing!”

By embracing virtual health technology, such as My HealtheVet, VA health care teams expand Veteran access to care, improve their care experience and empower them to take charge of their health and wellness.

Wacker has a message for other providers not yet using this feature: “Take the time to learn it, because it’s very useful.”

Secure Messaging has enabled providers to deliver the best care anytime, anywhere.

To learn more about My HealtheVet’s Secure Messaging feature, visit https://www.myhealth.va.gov/mhv-portal-web/web/myhealthevet/secure-messaging-spotlight.

By Audrey Umhoefer is a public affairs specialist with the Veterans Experience Office

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Published on Apr. 27, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.1 min.

Views to date: 1,006

31 Comments

  1. Carlos Pi9 May 4, 2022 at 10:51 pm

    Mental Health is horrendous!! 2 months for an interview and another month to get medication. Conroe, TX Office NEVER responds to secure messages!!! It’s a waste!!

  2. Tammy Guinn May 1, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    I use this system and the information gets no where. I finally get to see a doctor and they have not even seen the message. If you can get your doctor on you list to send a message you have made it past the first hurdle. Now for the message to get to the doctor good luck. With VA doctors in specialty clinics coming in once a week how can they see patience and look at the messages and respond to them. This is another broken system the government is over looking. I have been told to call the nurse line to see if they can help get the message to the doctor. Now I need to use two different ways to try to tell the doctor I’m having problems and this is called a good system.

  3. Collette Heuertz May 1, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    I’m very disappointed with the VA. I have a service connected disability (albeit only 0%) and was sent to the pain clinic by my primary care doctor because I have almost constant pain in my lower back and hip. After evaluation I was referred to a chiropractor as my case manager. When I came in he had a woman give me a cupping treatment, the effects of which lasted until I got to the parking lot. The next appointment was a month later and was another cupping treatment. The next appointment he told me I didn’t need to come back because I had nerve pain and they couldn’t help me except to prescribe opioid pain killers. I think the real reason they couldn’t help me is that I’m 74 and female. Being female is also why I got 0% rating in 1991.

    • Collette Heuertz May 1, 2022 at 3:11 pm

      I don’t care for the “upgraded” messaging system. I had no problem using he system until they “improved” it.

  4. Scott Johnson April 29, 2022 at 8:55 am

    This new system is HORRIBLE! I had no issues signing in under the old way. I have EVERY single sign in listed on the “Try me” tab and I still can’t sign-in! The “Logon” button takes me to the authenticate and sends a code to my phone but I get sent back to the original sign-in screen. The Good Idea Fairy is strong with these GOs trying to get that bullet point on their reviews. As for the system in general, I really like MyHealthye Vet it has made things much faster for me. I guess living in Phoenix and using Carl T Hayden Hospital during the scandal has forced them to do the right thing.

  5. Lewis Sumrell April 28, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    At the cboc in Greenville NC a “secure” email I sent to my therapist at the time, was replied to by one of her secretaries.
    It’s not secure if a random stranger can read it.
    Be very careful what you write in a “secure” email.

  6. David in MA April 28, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    Yes, it is great, but my last 6 appointments were cancelled. why? I have not been given a reasonable answer.

  7. Bruno vitti April 28, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    This article is an example of what you get when you have marketing people write them. Email has been around for well over 30 years and the VA is touting as an innovative new approach to communications! Secure Messaging is the most I’ll conceived, poorly built, and hopelessly inefficient system of its kind in all the land! I could pile on with all the other valid criticism I’ve read, but what’s the point? No one will read this, no one will care, and nothing will change. Politicians send us off to war on a whim, giving no thought on how to treat us when we returned. It will never change. We haven’t “defended iyr freedom” since WW II. Everything else has been bullsht. One day, American men are going to ask up and realize how we’ve all been played for the last 75 years, and refuse to serve in the military. Crap like this will be all they have to look forward to. Except, of course, those who see the government as one huge t-t they can live off of for their whole life. Please don’t get me started on all the mouth breathing, knuckle dragging workers who litter the VA landscape. The only college they went to had the word ‘barber’ or ‘clown’ in front of it. I’m ashamed of our government.

  8. glenn L kitselman April 28, 2022 at 3:08 pm

    Fax? Who uses Fax anymore? I use the msging service and it typically works fine. Thats saying a lot considering I’m enrolled in Spokane, Wa.
    One thing is you have to navigate the stupid VA.gov to patientportal etc. I totally understand the fustration I hate the whole system. I’m 66 and computer lierate but I have probs with the program. Can you imagine someone 75 y/o thats not real hip with computers trying to navigate this crap.
    The one thing about all these negative comments is make sure we are separating the “Messaging” from the phone calls. In my experience the Messaging gets results “fairly quickly” while I/you wait for a week(s) or more for response.
    I’m one of those that manages my health care more than most and am in contact with the VA 3-4 times a year and I am an advocate of the VA.

  9. Jim Murry April 28, 2022 at 10:49 am

    I may be the exception, but I’ve had pretty good luck with the Community Care Program. I’ve had some other members of our Amvets post come to me with their complaints. I made a few phone calls and contacted their Patient Advocate. He apparently acts as a liaison between the VA side and the civilian side. So far we’ve had no complaints.

  10. Andrew Ski April 28, 2022 at 10:18 am

    For me its works great & has been working great since it first came out. From the clinic to the hospital, I get same day responses on important issues. I don’t & won’t expect same day responses for minor info requests or questions. Its obvious some have never called or had a civilian provider, you want to get mad; go pay for minimal responses & $$$ only care. Sounds like we have some whiners who had maybe one bad experience and now see an opportunity to unload the doom & gloom. If its not working contact someone about it, stop expecting it to automatic just for you. Life’s too short to to just complain to be heard.

  11. Melissa Livingston April 28, 2022 at 9:03 am

    Community Care needs to use My Healthy vet secure messaging. They only call and I work!! So I don’t get my appointment and Community Care gets to ration care by design! Change their contracts away from phone calls only! If you try to call them back it’s an hour on hold!!

  12. Jim April 28, 2022 at 8:32 am

    It’s a very poor communication device.
    The restricted design and the process it takes to get to it and back from it I mean I get an email on my regular email that tells me I have a message and now I have to login and now I have to find my message and then I get to reply and wait for an answer that often isn’t even related to the question I asked it is a very poor communication device on us very poorly designed website that has too many clicks to get to where you need to be

    • Cynthia Beers April 28, 2022 at 12:59 pm

      I agree 100%! I know I can get in before 7am and after 9pm. Pathetic

  13. Sharon Johnson April 28, 2022 at 8:06 am

    The system only works when providers respond in a timely manner, and they do not. Average wait time for a response is two weeks, and if you express any kind of impatience, you’re met with aggressive and abusive language… and none of us need that.

  14. Chad Talley; AOD. Alvin York VAMC April 28, 2022 at 1:10 am

    This is collosal b. S! I work for VA and they are the biggest bunch of liars I have ever seen:
    DENY, DENY, UNTIL THEY ALL DIE!!

  15. David Robertson April 27, 2022 at 11:26 pm

    I have found it impersonal and a waist of my time. It only works if someone on your end texts within a reasonable amount of time. I’ve been waiting 2 weeks for someone to contact me to schedule an appointment. 2 WEEKS. Very impersonal.

  16. Robert Wright April 27, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    My HealtheVet is not so good right. It’s hit or miss from my iPhone. Ordered meds did not go through even though app indicated it did.
    Cannot get travel pay using app on my phone. Hope it is fixed soon. Been over a month since problems began. Anyone know when the bugs will be fixed.

  17. Al Rodriguez April 27, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    In Corpus Christi VA Clinic, there is poor communication between pt. and med. staff, very bad. Don’t believe me, call them and leave a msg. and see how long it takes them to respond!!!

  18. jose m. rodriguez April 27, 2022 at 10:34 pm

    This program has not worked well for me. It did work very good Ie, always received a positive reply from my provider; however now today it does not work.
    If I send a message to my nurse asking for assistance it takes more than 3 to 5 days only to get a reply to the message will be sent to the provider. I have yet to receive an answer from the provider, soon will have been waiting for 3 weeks.

  19. Ken Baldwin April 27, 2022 at 10:33 pm

    Works great unless you are using a Mac, iPhone, or any other Apple product.

  20. dave April 27, 2022 at 8:46 pm

    unfortunately, the new system will not tell you or contact by text, email etc, that you have a response message like the old system did.

  21. Doug schillo April 27, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    It would be helpful if Secure Messaging would allow patients to forward messages. I needed to forward a message from one VA provider to another and was unable to do so.

  22. Daniel Myers April 27, 2022 at 8:39 pm

    When I leave sensitive information for my provider, it’s usually intercepted by a nurse first. I had a recent experience to where the information was so sensitive the embarrassment it caused me was nothing short of traumatic. I no longer use the “Secure Messaging” because it doesn’t really go where you intend it to go without being filtered first.

  23. PJ Harrison April 27, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    Oh the new log in worked well. It’s locked me out of the entire system. Snort.

  24. Kevin Curtin April 27, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    This makes me laugh. I’ve been using Secure Messaging through My HealtheVet for years, and it still doesn’t work for veterans.

    Why? Because the VA doesn’t force all their departments to participate, even minimally (e.g., one Secured Messaging email access point per department) so the only way to reach some of them is via telephone, with a long wait time, and that still leaves no record of the conversations that the veteran can refer to later on if/when something falls through the cracks.

    Veterans are just like anyone else. We try to be cooperative, but there are limits. Being denied email access to our health care providers, ESPECIALLY when those same providers use email themselves on a daily basis, is a disrespectful waste of our time at best.

  25. Dana Reed April 27, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    BULLSHT This Veteran feels that the VA needs canceled Period 3 yrs no help from my primary care team and my mental health professionals are a bunch of useless pill pushers who G.A.F. less about Veterans

  26. Jerry L. Orr April 27, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    I have trouble with the secure messaging. They never seem to go thru. The only way it works is if I have a message to reply to.

    Another subject/question, I read once the retirees & previous civil service employees are eligible for a free TSA Pre Check, but I haven’t seen that again. Any place I can find that again?

  27. Robert Potozniak April 27, 2022 at 7:00 pm

    Totally agree with the use of “Secure Messaging”. The ONE issue that should be addressed is the capability to DELETE the emails in our TRASH FOLDER.

    What’s the point of a TRASH FOLDER if items are NOT deleted, either by MyHealthyVet or by the Veteran??

  28. Bruce Rhoades April 27, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    I have used the message system and when I want it to go to the doctor it seems it diverted to others and I don’t get a straight answer for days

  29. Daniel Elswick April 27, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    I use it most of the time. I wish my non V A Doctors could excess it especially when ordering new prescriptions for me and reviewing my labs, etc. ; or vice a versa. Faxing this takes much longer.

Comments are closed.

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