Use VA Secure Messaging to your advantage


My DH got authenticated at the RO for this VA service a few months ago.  It’s great for checking blood lab results, refilling meds and sending messages to his VA primary doctor.

Since a veteran’s sworn testimony is rejected so often, this service may be useful for evidence in future claims–providing you don’t delete your relevant SENT messages/or replies you receive from your VA health team.  (If you delete a message by mistake, it will go into the Deleted folder.)

Keep it orderly.  An example: 1. Create personal folders under My Folders.  Click Add new folder. In Folder Name type: Refills; click Submit.  From Inbox,  check a RX-related email in tiny box.  From the top drop-down menu, “move selected to”  Refills;  click MOVE button.   Check folder in left sidebar to see if action completed.  You can edit/rename folders later.

Why I like this service:

  • Each email has a unique ID number, is dated and timed (Central Time).
  • In the SENT box, you can see if your email has been read!
  • This is basic and intuitive email app uses larger fonts for easy reading.
  • You can print your emails (which contain email threads). No printer? Use a screen capture tool such as the PC snipping tool and save emails as images on your hard drive.
  • Subject lines are clear and get directed to the right person:  General Inquiry, Appointments, Medications, Test.  You can send now or save as a draft.
  • Application limitations: No forwarding.  No attachments.

Today my DH sent a secure message requesting a new hearing test and hearing aid adjustment.  He reported that his hearing has gotten worse since his last test 3 years ago.

Last week he requested a new pill cutter from the pharmacy and received it promptly via mail.  Meds are refilled promptly.

When his doctor was on vacation, his recent ultra scan results were emailed by a nurse after he made an inquiry.  Less frustration waiting.

This is a vast improvement over telephone communications alone.  Phone calls can’t be  used as evidence, unless you record them (ex. with Google Voice).  With selected VA Secure Messages to your health care team (ID’d, dated and timed) as back-up to your sworn testimony, you’re in better shape.

Caution:

If veterans use the system for frivolous emails, or over-use the system, it could get shut down as the VA is wont to do.

Be careful what you write because your own written words can/will be used against you!  (“Veteran emailed his doctor on Oct 6, 2012 #22675 that he is feeling almost back to new after new medication began. He reports laying a new roof on his house and harvested and split three trees for fire wood.”  Have someone read the email before you hit send

About Laura

NW Vermont.
This entry was posted in Guest authors, Tips and Tricks, vA news and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Use VA Secure Messaging to your advantage

  1. SquidlyOne says:

    I’ve had it with the healthcare “rationing” by the VA. I long for the day when I can get medicare. I can’t believe a damn thing these people tell me. Plenty of evidence of stupidity and incompetence. All I have to do is walk through the door of VAMC for that. They don’t want to diagnose anything becuase then they would have to treat it. Better off finding some unemployed, Jamaican, voodoo witch doctors!

    • Kiedove says:

      Ah, Medicare: The good side of turning 65. We’re also waiting.
      A thought? Any free community clinics nearby? Get DX, bring to VA primary for treatment? (We’ve noticed that the VA hates it when you get 2nd opinions.)
      http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/Search_HCC.aspx

      • SquidlyOne says:

        Only low income families with children in my state can get that. The state runs their own HHS, SS and they have “hooks” into the VA as well. The state just kicks me back to the VA since I am service connected. Yet the largest economy in the largest city is healthcare and health insurance which are married at the hip. My attorney had to get by the state “goofballs” for SSDI which is in the appeal stage now and could take another year.

        The story with the VHA goes like this: Take your pages of questions and symptoms into your PCP. They refer you to specialists. The specialists get to you a year or two later. In the mean time, you make 6 or 7 trips to the emergency room where they they give you some pills, do a blood test and send you home. HCV patients don’t see a specialist for liver disease. The PCP refers them to the “Hepatitis C Coordinator” who is an ARPN or a CNS. She does screening for the treatment and then starts the treatment. There is no assessment conducted of liver damage or liver disease at all. There is no hepatologist in the picture at all. I’ve never seen one, and it’s been 3 years now since dx for HCV.

  2. Kiedove says:

    I agree that they have moved too slowly. Attachments would be great for people with personal computers but might be problematic for those using public computers unless thumb drives could be used with them.
    I imagine they are also troubled by uploads failing. Yet I upload photos to Walgreens photo service, and other places with no issues and I don’t have a particularly fast WI-FI connection.
    The VA IT department functions poorly as we have recently seen with the BVA decisions being offline for many months.

  3. azeejensmom says:

    Correction: the “cough-cough” was in relation to proactive vA care, not a proactive Veteran.

  4. azeejensmom says:

    Save the email to your personal computer and then send it as an email to yourself as a secondary storage space if it can’t be printed….paper-trail, paper-trail.

    We use Secure messaging all the time for the very same reasons. Rather than leave a message for his provider to call with results or worse yet, have to make an appt to go in…we recently received the results via secure messaging.

    One would think VA providers would want to have blood test results in front of them when a patient comes in for say for diabetes monitoring but oh no, that would be working in forward fashion. Not one of my husbands providers does this, they order routine tests at the appt. Not anymore, I use secure messaging to request the lab orders and they are in his file on the day of his appt. If a change needs to be made regarding medication, dosing or further tests are needed they can be done at the appt rather than after…another delay.

    This is all called “proactive personal patient care” ladies and gentleman. Perhaps eventually (cough, cough) proactive Veterans can train their providers to actually provide proactive care for routine and/or monitoring labs and tests.

    Earlier this year I requested the provider via secure messaging order labs before we came in for my husbands twice a year visit with her. Her response, “oh I like that idea, lets do that.” Most lab slips are good for a window of time so more likely than not they can’t have the patient walk out with a slip for their next check up —— especially because in the private arena of medical care the patient is seen 3 times more often for chronically long term management of care ——- at the vAm it’s a once a year appt. So, the message is to request via secure messaging a couple weeks prior to your appt any necessary lab slips to be written up and when you arrive for your annual appt the doctor should have necessary information in front of them about the innards while they examine the outards.

    With the price of fuel these days ($%#@*^) the decision to be proactive in patient management or to make one trip to the vA is a personal one.

    Great post

    • Kiedove says:

      I hadn’t thought of asking for lab orders prior to appointments via Secure Messaging. Excellent idea. This would makes the appointments more productive.
      I also like your other suggestion of a less cumbersome way to keep a copy of the email, How I would do this would be to compose the email in my online iCloud email application, with subject line: sent to VA today. then send it to myself. Put it in a created folder. The text would not be on my hard drive but Apple’s cloud service (free up to 5GB). Then I would copy and paste the body of the message into the VA Secure Messaging system. So I would have 2 copies.

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