How can clinicians control whether patients can contact them via secure messaging?

Question: How can a clinician determine whether, and for how long, a patient can send them messages via MyAHS Connect (Connect Care patient portal)?

Context: Patients who have activated MyAHS Connect are able to securely communicate with healthcare providers via Connect Care. This does not mean that they can initiate communication with any provider. Four tests determine whether a patient is able to send a message to a Connect Care clinician:
  1. Recipient - If a provider initiates a secure patient message to an individual active on MyAHS Connect, that patient will be able to respond to the sending provider.
  2. PCP - If the patient's primary care provider (PCP) uses Connect Care as their record of primary care services, then that provider can be messaged directly (if so configured by the provider) or via a clinic-managed message pool.
  3. Consultant - If the patient has been seen by a consulting (specialist) clinician within the prior 90 days in a facility where Connect Care is the record of care, then the patient can send a message to the clinician (if configured to accept personal-direct messages) and/or the clinic patient message pool.
  4. Clinic - If the patient's clinic (primary care or specialty) has a patient message pool configured, and the patient was seen in that clinic within the last 90 days, then appointment request and some other message types can be initiated with the clinic via its managed message pool.
Patients are offered three options when generating a new message:

If the "Ask a medical question" option is selected, additional options appear. These will be seen by receiving clinician(s) as patient messages categorized by the request reason.

If there is no active patient-clinician messaging relationship for the option selected, the patient is immediately informed that there are no providers assigned for that type of question, and they are directed to contact their clinic for assistance.

Most Connect Care outpatient clinics are configured by default to route incoming patient messages to a clinic message pool for monitoring, screening and forwarding. This can help shield physicians from excess In Basket messages, or delays in answering messages when physicians are busy. However, sometimes physicians will want to send and receive a patient message without anyone else being part of the communication loop.
Answer: Patients with active MyAHS Connect accounts can receive and respond to patient messages sent directly from any clinician. Patients can also use the patient portal to communicate with their primary care provider, or with a provider seen in a Connect Care clinic within the last 90 days, but in most cases the messages will go to a clinic message pool for screening and review before possible redirection to the individual provider.

If a provider does not want to receive messages from one or more patients, the following options should be explored:
  • Outpatient clinic messaging protocol - Work with clinic colleagues to confirm an agreement respecting whether the clinic maintains an incoming patient message screening process and ensure that the responsible support staff know that the particular provider does not accept patient messages.
  • Patient-provider relationship - If a provider will not participate in any ongoing care of the patient, or will not offer any further post-visit communications, then the "Care Team" activity can be opened in Connect Care and the provider can "end" any existing primary or specialty care relationship, thus removing the provider from communication availability.
  • Direct communication - Clinicians can always respond (or have their messaging pool respond) to a patient message with a request to not use MyAHS Connect for communications with a particular provider.
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