VITLDirect Secure Messaging System: Saving Time and Improving Care

Written by Christine Sweeny, eHealth Specialist.

Whether it is a referral from primary care to a specialist, or returning a patient to home health after a hospital admission, a lot of patient information changes hands during a transition of care. Sometimes the transfer of dataVITLDirect doesn't go smoothly.

"There are a lot of things that can be missed in those transitions," says Kat Meyer, RN, a VITL eHealth specialist. For example, a new medication that was prescribed by the previous physician may be inadvertently left off the medication list and the drug is not given in the new care setting. Or the receiving provider doesn't receive the results of a previous test and orders a redundant test.

Sending a set of patient information, called a summary of care record, as part of the transition of care is the solution to the problem.

By transmitting a data set that is standard in electronic health record systems, "we make sure that nothing is missed," says VITL eHealth Specialist Christine Sweeny. "The summary of care record is very comprehensive."
A summary of care record includes elements such as:

  • Referring or transitioning provider's name and office contact information
  • Encounter diagnosis
  • Demographic information (preferred language, sex, race, ethnicity, date of birth)
  • Care plan, including goals and instructions
  • Discharge instructions
  • Current problem list
  • Current medication list
  • Current medication allergy list

Hospitals and eligible professionals are beginning to use the summary of care record during transitions of care. For Stage 1 of meaningful use, providing the summary of care record is optional, and it can be printed out and faxed. In Stage 2, the summary of care record is a required core measure, and must be sent electronically in at least 10 percent of transitions of care.

The meaningful use requirements must utilize a secure messaging system such as VITLDirect to send the summary of care record to the receiving provider. The summary of care record is sent as an attachment to the secure message.

Using a secure messaging system like VITLDirect greatly reduces the staff time involved in transmitting patient information during a transition of care, says Sweeny. Instead of spending hours handling paperwork, employees can be spending more time on patient care, such as making outreach calls for care management.

Having a set of patient information in a standardized format is a big time saver for providers too, says Meyer. She recalls using a lot of time as a nurse sifting through dozens of faxed pages looking for a single lab result, only to not find it. With a summary of care record, "you know exactly what you are going to get" and can locate information quickly.

For more information about summary of care records and VITLDirect, contact your VITL eHealth specialist.