Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE)
VA Direct Messaging and Community Care Providers
VA Direct Messaging is now a member of DirectTrust’s Accredited Trust Anchor Bundle (ATAB)!
Who is DirectTrust?
DirectTrust is a collaborative non-profit association comprised of health IT and health care provider organizations to support secure, interoperable health information exchange via the Direct message protocols. DirectTrust has created a “trust framework” that supports both provider-to-provider Direct exchange as well as exchange between consumers/patients and their providers.
What is DirectTrust’s Accredited Trust Anchor Bundle (ATAB)?
DirectTrust’s ATAB is a single, trusted “on ramp” for VA and community care providers to use Direct Messaging across a secure network that currently connects over 1.8 million providers (in all 50 states and U.S. territories) using over 350 certified electronic medical records (EMRs) nationally.
Why is DirectTrust’s ATAB membership important to Veterans?
As a DirectTrust ATAB member, VA Direct Messaging has a much more expanded list of community care providers with which to share Veterans’ health care data via Direct Messaging – thereby improving care coordination for the Veteran.
What are the security requirements for VA (and other federal agencies) for DirectTrust’s ATAB?
Until recently, VA (and other federal agencies) could only share Direct messages with a Federal Bridge Cross-Certified Accreditation (FBCA) certificate - which restricted many community care providers from sharing health information with VA. In November of 2018, General Services Administration’s (GSA’s) Federal Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) Policy Authority removed the requirement for Federal Bridge Cross-Certified Accreditation (FBCA) Certificates. Read GSA’s Federal PKI guidance here.
Additional FAQs from Community Care Providers
How is VA using Direct Messaging?
The referrals and health information that VA staff has been faxing, mailing, or delivering by hand can be sent using Direct Messaging. Additional uses by VA for Direct Messaging include behavioral health and home health coordination, among others.
How do I know VA Direct Messaging is secure?
VA Direct Messaging complies with federal security guidelines, as well as with the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Security Rule. These guidelines specify the secure, scalable, and standards-based method for sharing of Protected Health Information (PHI). VA requires encryption for VA-protected data that is FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) 140-2 validated.
Is VA Direct Messaging a member of DirectTrust?
VA Direct Messaging has full DirectTrust Health Information Service Provider (HISP) Accreditation and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) Privacy and Security Accreditation. These accreditation programs ensure that VA Direct Messaging is operating in accordance with the DirectTrust Certificate Policy and Direct Specifications, as well as provides a trust mechanism among all entities that successfully complete the program.
What does VA require provider-to-provider users (VA and non-VA) to do to authenticate and verify their identities for Direct Messaging?
VA and community care users must be identity-proofed at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Level of Assurance (LOA) 3 or higher to comply with federal regulations. LOA3 stipulates that physical presence is required for identify proofing, and it must be performed by an authorized and trained representative.
How can our organization start the process to get connected with VA Direct Messaging?
If you are a VA staff member or a community care provider who wants to start the process for connecting with VA Direct Messaging, please contact VA Direct Messaging’s program manager at VADirectInfo@va.gov.
Click here to download additional FAQs as well as the five phases for community care providers to engage with VA Direct Messaging.
Community Care Provider Documentation
When a community care provider starts the process for connecting with VA Direct Messaging, they will complete and submit the Community Care Provider Business Survey and the Community Care Provider Technical Survey.
For transparency, VA Direct Messaging has provided responses regarding VA systems, processes, and policies to both the Business Survey and Technical Survey.
If you are a community care provider interested in learning more about the process to become a community care provider connected with VA Direct Messaging, please contact VA Direct Messaging’s program manager at VADirectInfo@va.gov.
If a community care provider has identified a technical issue with VA Direct Messaging (and suggests that the issue stems from VA’s Direct system), the community care provider should email VADirectSupport@va.gov with a brief description of the technical issue. The VA Direct Messaging team will submit a ticket on the community care provider’s behalf to VA’s Enterprise Service Desk (ESD).