VA, DoD launch bidirectional EHR sharing with community providers

Both agencies will be able to more easily and securely exchange health records with outside providers, while participating health systems will gain a single point of entry to request agency health data.
By Mike Miliard
10:52 AM

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may have hit pause on its electronic health record modernization while it focuses its attention on COVID-19, but it's still continuing to make progress on its integration efforts with the Department of Defense and the community at large.

WHY IT MATTERS

This week, the joint DoD/VA Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization announced the launch of its new health data sharing capability. Both the DoD and VA will now be able to more quickly and securely exchange health records with other providers in the wider community.

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The health information exchange capability likewise allows providers from DoD and VA to more easily access EHR data for patients who are also seen by certain community or health systems, officials say: Participating providers will now have a single point of entry to request and access DoD and VA health data.

The joint HIE is also set to enable continued expansion of interoperability in the future – including, as expected later this year, connection with the 15,000 community providers in CommonWell, the data exchange alliance cofounded by Cerner and other EHR vendors.

The joint HIE capability honors patient consent, so that health records of patients who opt out of sharing will not be exchanged through the HIE, government officials noted.

THE LARGER TREND

In an interview with Healthcare IT News earlier this year, Dr. Neil Evans, now the interim director of the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization program office, described how the VA is working to broaden access to telehealth and make community care available to more veterans.

"The most effective interventions enhance or extend a traditional health care relationship," he explained. "For health care providers, the electronic health record is their go-to application for getting work done. It’s where the data is and where most workflows and health care transactions play out.

"Accordingly, provider adoption of telehealth and connected care is enhanced when better integrated with the electronic health record," he said. "As part of VA’s EHR modernization efforts, efforts are underway to deeply integrate and build VA’s connected care technologies directly into the new record, in support of a better veteran and provider experience and further expansion of virtual care delivery."

ON THE RECORD

"The recent COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance for clinicians on the front lines to quickly access a patient's health record, regardless of where that patient previously received care," said Evans in a statement this week announcing the new record sharing initiative. "As the DoD and VA implement a single, common record, the joint health information exchange and the associated expansion of community exchange partners is a critical step forward, delivering immediate value to all DoD and VA sites."

In a statement, Cerner called the launch "another historic benchmark in their ongoing efforts to implement a single, common health record and transform health care. The joint health information exchange is a monumental step forward - enabling a seamless, secure exchange of health data between the departments and an extended network of community partners. Clinicians will have the right data at the right time to make more informed medical decisions, enabling better health outcomes for our Veterans, Service members and their families."

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

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media

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