Technology is bringing back a version of patient-friendly, old-world medicine through the simple use of secure email with your Army health care team.
Certain types of medical care that require a visit to a primary care manager can now be accomplished by email for beneficiaries registered with Secure Messaging, to include:
• Consulting with your medical team about non-urgent health matters;
• Requesting appointments, referrals and prescription renewals;
• Receiving test and laboratory results or guidance from your medical team by email.
Secure Messaging is being introduced at the Family Practice Clinic at the U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart. The Family Practice Clinic includes Primary Care, Pediatrics and Tricare services. To sign up for Secure Messaging, beneficiaries can provide their personal email at the front desk of the health clinic on Patch Barracks. They will then receive an email invitation to join the service. Although new to Army medicine in Europe, Secure Messaging is currently in use by more than 2,000 medical providers from more than 50 sites in the U.S., accounting for over 210,000 patient messages over the past six months. Although beneficiaries receive a personal email letting them know they have information awaiting them on Secure Messaging, they use their personal password to log into the Secure Messaging site.
The secure site, contracted through Relay Health, is in compliance with the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and stringently protects personal information through encryption technology. Information is only accessible by the beneficiary and the health care team. Secure Messaging is also a valuable tool for the clinics and doctors to communicate with the patients and remind them of preventive services. Clinics can easily send reminders about immunizations, screenings such as well baby visits, medication recalls and flu vaccine availability.
An example of a typical patient message through Secure Messaging would be a mother concerned about her child who wakes up with a rash on his or her stomach.
Instead of taking the child to an emergency room or trying to schedule a medical appointment, the mother could communicate through Secure Messaging with a nurse or doctor for advice on treating the child at home and/or bringing the child in for a medical appointment. Secure Messaging is popular with both beneficiaries and medical staffers because of its usefulness and efficiency. “Secure Messaging is a win-win for everyone,” said Col. Joanna Reagan, the U.S. Army Health Clinic Stuttgart commander. “The patient can communicate with their care team between scheduled clinic visits without having to go into the clinic,” she said. “The civilian health care delivery sector adopted this concept about five years ago and it had an immediate impact on how doctors interacted with their patients. Communicating with patients between clinic visits allows doctors to focus on the patient’s health and not just their health care,” Reagan added.
She advised that although the requirement is to reply within 72 hours, the health care team “will try to reply back to patients within 24 hours during Monday through Friday.” The clinic commander emphasized that the system is for non-emergent situations.
For more information, call the Community Health Nurse at 430-6383/civ. 0711-680-6383.