Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

1.3M Veterans Opt Into Health Data Exchange with Private Sector

Millions of veterans have elected to support health data exchange with the private sector through the eHealth Exchange.

Health Data Exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- More than 1.3 million veterans have opted in to allow the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to participate in health data exchange for improved care coordination with providers in the private sector.

By allowing their health data to be accessible to providers in the private sector, veterans will be able to receive more efficient and effective healthcare when they visit participating Community Care Sites. Community Care Sites participating in exchange include nearly 1,000 hospitals, 19,000 clinics, 8,500 pharmacies, 600 labs, and 250 nursing homes.

"The eHealth Exchange has been working with the Veterans Health Administration since 2009 to steadily increase health data sharing connectivity to ensure veterans and their families receive the most effective care no matter where they seek it," said eHealth Exchange Director Jennifer Rosas. "And once a veteran receives treatment at a Community Care Site, we make it easier for VA-providers to receive care notes and follow-up."

The ability to exchange veteran patient EHRs with the private sector will become increasingly important in the coming years. Veterans are expected to increase the care they receive in the private sector by an estimated 40 to 60 percent over the next decade.

VHA will primarily share health data with the private sector through eHealth Exchange. The Sequoia Project’s eHealth Exchange is currently the most common way federal agencies exchange health data with the private sector to support patient care delivery, quality assurance, and disability programs.

"Veterans often have complex care needs, due to the nature of their injuries and stress from their military service," said CEO of the Sequoia Project Mariann Yeager. "Having access to veteran health data is essential for providing the highest quality care, no matter where a veteran seeks treatment. The eHealth Exchange is honored to support the men and women in and out of uniform who have so bravely served our country." 

The public-private network is also used to exchange data between federal agencies. eHealth Exchange shares patient information including medical histories, allergies, medications, procedures, family histories, and other health data to enable better informed clinical decision making.

VA has also used eHealth Exchange to connect to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Since the SSA and VA health IT initiative were launched in November of last year, one million veteran patient EHRs have been exchanged from VA care sites.

In addition to enabling improved health data exchange with the private sector through eHealth Exchange, VA also hopes to improve care delivery, patient EHR access, and interoperability by implementing its new Cerner EHR systems at all VA care sites by 2024.

 The first Cerner implementation is expected to go live at a VA care site about 18 months after Cerner and VA finish negotiating their contract. VA chose Cerner to provide the platform for its commercial EHR partially because the DoD EHR system MHS Genesis also operates on a Cerner platform.

To ensure Congress is clued into all activity, budget, and timeline changes associated with the project, four House Representatives recently introduced legislation that will increase Congress’s oversight of the implementation.

The Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act of 2017 will require VA to provide Congress with its key planning and implementation documents throughout the project. VA will also be required to provide Congress with copies of the finalized contracts to show how much the implementation will cost.

Additionally, Cerner has created an advisory group to offer insights and recommendations to support the implementation that includes former government, military, and private sector leaders interested in optimizing Veteran healthcare. 

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