It's official: Hampton Roads is next VLER community
The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense yesterday officially inaugurated Hampton Roads, Va., a nexus of veterans and active-duty military as well as government and purchased healthcare providers, as the next site of its Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) community pilot project.
The Virginia project will bring together DoD, VA, and commercial healthcare providers Sentara Healthcare, Riverside Health System and Bon Secours Medical Group.
The new project, dubbed "Phase 1b" of VLER by its government sponsors, follows on Phase 1a, a San Diego, Calif.-based project began last year to test the exchange of electronic health records between the VA and the private Kaiser Permanente health network.
The southeastern Virginia area was chosen for its "high volume of beneficiaries, large volume of purchased care, and strong support for health information exchanges from the governor's office," according to DoD spokesperson Cynthia Smith.
Purchased care refers to the health care services provided to government beneficiaries by private organizations under contract. "DoD and VA both encourage our contract providers to participate since much of the care provided to our beneficiaries comes from contract providers," said Smith.
VLER health communities test systems which share information among the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and private health provider networks.
Such information sharing is envisioned to eventually emerge as a virtual lifetime electronic record, or VLER, an Obama administration initiative to build one system that will include administrative and medical information for armed services members and veterans from the time of their induction to the end of their lives.
"This implementation is important to DoD because we expect to have the opportunity to exchange information with private sector providers," said Smith. "In San Diego, Kaiser-Permanente is not a DoD contract provider and we found no shared patients between DoD and Kaiser-Permanente."
VLER 1b is also expected to build on 1a by exchanging additional data elements.
The start of the collaboration appears to be on a fast-track. "At least one DoD hospital will begin engaging with the Hampton VA Medical Center and private providers over the NHIN on or before July 31, 2010," said Smith. "Expansion to the other DoD facilities in the area will follow."