Digital Minute: Epic Secure Chat Update

Premier Pulse     October 2023

1467409706P-W-EMS62057-Via_MandyBy Walter Reiling, MD, system chief medical information officer, Premier Health; and Mandy Via, system director of access, referral management, and telehealth, Premier Health

Since deploying the Epic Secure Chat tool a few years ago, we have seen a steady increase in use. The tool now accounts for nearly 1 million messages sent each month. We have continued developing the tool and have periodically received new functionality with our Epic upgrades. With the upgrade in October, we will see the addition of five emojis, which are familiar to most of us. There are established meanings for all of these at Premier Health. The thumbs up will indicate acknowledgment and understanding of the message content, not necessarily liking or agreeing. The heart will indicate thanks or gratitude. The others will indicate humor, surprise, and sadness, and are all self-explanatory.  This addition is eagerly anticipated as it will allow a quick response without generating an extra alert to the recipient.

Availability status designation is a powerful tool to properly manage secure chat communication.  These status indicators are visible to anyone who sends you a message. “Available” indicates you are online and monitoring for messages. “Busy” does not change how messages are received and will still generate alerts on the recipient’s device. It indicates to a sender that you may be unable to read or respond to a message in real-time.  “Do Not Disturb” will silence the alerts on your device. You will still receive messages and be able to review them at your convenience but will receive no alert as it arrives. A sender will be aware you will not be alerted to the message. “Offline,” as you might expect, indicates you are not available at all, and a sender cannot generate a message to you. The system blocks this from occurring on the sender’s device before a message is initiated. These are the categories that Epic supplies, and we cannot change the naming or function.

Feel free to contact me at with any questions.

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