FEHRM connects with CommonWell, boosting data exchange for DOD, VA, USCG

The Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization's joint HIE will now be able to more easily connect with 15,000 hospitals and clinics in the private sector, enabling a richer flow of data and better care for veterans.
By Mike Miliard
10:37 AM
Dots connected by lines over map of North America

The Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization program office announced this week that the joint health information exchange recently formed by the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Coast Guard has broadened its scope by signing on with the CommonWell Health Alliance.

WHY IT MATTERS
The joint HIE was launched earlier this year to streamline the data sharing capability among the DOD, VA and USCG and enable them to more easily and securely share bidirectional EHR with each other and with participating community providers.

CommonWell – which has built a nationwide network of more than 15,000 hospitals and clinics over the past seven years – will immediately bring that expanded opportunity for connectivity, over and above the 46,000 community partners already using the HIE.

Via the joint HIE (which offers the ability for patients to opt out of its network), clinicians will be able to access information from other providers about past medical procedures and medical notes, lab and radiology results, immunizations, prescriptions, allergies, and more.

Since the DOD, VA and USCG each launched EHR modernization programs in recent years, striving to modernize and deploy a common Cerner-build record system, they've sought ways to better deliver document care – from the time service members enter the military through their care as veterans.

Since 60%-70% of DOD and veterans' care takes place in the private sector, expanding visibility across networks of community providers is essential.

THE LARGER TREND
At the Cerner Health Conference this week, leaders from both DOD and VA, whose respective EHR modernizations Cerner is spearheading, and CommonWell, of which it is a founding member, offered a series of updates.

Cerner's work on MHS GENESIS for DOD and the Coast Guard continues apace, with new COVID-19  specific capabilities such online screening questions added to the patient portal, new virtual ambulatory clinics and lab results immediately viewable via the portal.

And the VA's first medical center is set to go live with its new EHR soon after multiple delays, with more than 5,000 clinical end users trained in more than 1,300 standardized workflows.

“We are pushing interoperability and moving that ball forward," said Dr. Laura Kroupa, chief medical officer in the  VA's Office of Electronic Health Record Modernization, in a statement. " The ability to see and push or share the patient information is very important and this effort enhances that ability."

ON THE RECORD
"The CommonWell connection means DOD, VA and USCG providers can access more information about their patients to make the best care decisions," said William Tinston, director of the FEHRM, in a statement. "The FEHRM drives federal capabilities, such as the expanded joint HIE to improve health care delivery, regardless of where patients get care."

"As a clinician who is using the joint HIE, the more patient information I have access to, the more I can understand the full picture of my patient's care and better meet their needs," added Dr. Neil Evans, a VA primary care physician and clinical leader with the FEHRM. "During the COVID-19 pandemic, efficient electronic health information sharing is more important than ever."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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