- The Department of Defense is making greater strides in increasing interoperability as it joins Inova Health System on the eHealth Exchange, a federally-sponsored health information exchange (HIE), according to a press release.
By connecting to the eHealth Exchange, Inova and the DoD will be able to seamlessly and securely exchange patient health records over an electronic system, eliminating any physical barriers to information sharing.
The eHealth Exchange is a federally-sponsored HIE which is composed of both public and private participants. It was established in 2009, and enables an increase in interoperability between the exchange’s participants. Fully operational in all 50 states, the eHealth Exchange helps facilitate care coordination between an individual’s multiple physicians in more than one location.
The eHealth Exchange helps to improve the health and welfare of Americans through health information exchange that is trusted, scalable and enhances quality of care and health outcomes. Providers are able to use the data available through eHealth Exchange to quickly find and notify patients who may be at risk for problems related to unsafe drugs or recalled medical devices, identify epidemics nationwide, and allow researchers to analyze treatment and outcome data to identify best practices.
This interoperability between the DoD and Inova will benefit veteran and military patients particularly due to Inova’s location in Virginia. Because that area has a high population of military personnel, it will be highly beneficial for both entities to be able to easily exchange those patients’ health information.
“Inova’s partnership with the Department of Defense through the eHealth Exchange will provide a platform for securely exchanging health information to improve patient care and public health supporting the large population of military personnel in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia areas,” said Inova’s Vice President of Technology Services and Chief Medical Information Officer Ryan Bosch in a statement.
This news is excellent for those who have been waiting for the DoD to increase its interoperability efforts. Over the course of the past couple of years, the DoD has struggled with implementing its EHR with capabilities fully interoperable with the EHR at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
After abandoning a joint EHR program, both the DoD and VA have struggled to create their own separate systems that are also completely interoperable with one another.
This past October, the DoD and VA were under fire during a Congressional hearing regarding both entities’ healthcare interoperability. Members of Congress present at the meeting expressed considerable frustration with the slow timeline for EHR interoperability.
“I don’t mean to understate the enormity of the challenge of integrating the two largest federal bureaucracies,” said Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX), “but it’s clear to me that our inability to integrate these two systems is a failure of leadership rather than technical feasibility. This is not an issue of data standardization. This is management 101.”
By the end of November, the DoD announced that it had reached its long-awaited interoperability goal. According to the DoD, the agency’s Joint Legacy Viewer (JLV) was ready to share information between the DoD and the VA.
“What we really want to be able to show is the progress we've made and demonstrate our commitment to making sure that we're providing tools that are useful for our providers but also making things better for our service-member veterans and their families," said Chris Miller, the program executive officer for Defense Healthcare Management Systems, in a press release.
The DoD’s recent connection with Inova over the eHealth Exchange is another positive step for the DoD in increasing health information connectivity. As more healthcare organizations connect to the eHealth Exchange, interoperability -- and, in turn, care coordination and patient engagement -- will increase, helping to achieve overall between patient care.