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RI HIE Enables Bidirectional Health Data Exchange with VA

Rhode Island veterans will now benefit from bidirectional health data exchange thanks to a local project in the Ocean State.

VA health data exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Rhode Island Quality Institute and Providence VA Medical Center (VAMC) recently announced the start of a new project designed to improve the quality and safety of care for Rhode Island veterans through improved information sharing.

The Health Care Coordination for Rhode Island Veterans project will enable bidirectional health data exchange through the use of VAMC’s clinical information, CurrentCare, and Rhode Island’s statewide HIE.

Funded partially by a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, the project will allow VAMC healthcare providers and non-VA providers in the surrounding area to share patient health data more efficiently than ever.

“Letting doctors and nurses access veterans’ full medical history is a common-sense way to better care for those who have served our country,” said Founder of the Rhode Island Quality Institute Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

The project will allow for better care coordination and quality of care for veterans through improved patient EHR access.

READ MORE: Vanderbilt Study Shows EHR Use Improves Preventive Medicine

“I congratulate the Rhode Island Quality Institute and Rhode Island’s VA Medical Center on connecting and sharing information across two complex data systems,” said Whitehouse. “I’m also grateful to the Rhode Island Foundation for investing the resources needed to make it happen.”

Previously, veterans would often be required to collect and transport their own paper health records to visits with different providers.

The care coordination project will allow veterans to benefit from bidirectional health data exchange by allowing EHR systems at different facilities to access patient information immediately through CurrentCare.

“This type of collaboration is essential in order to ensure that our veterans have equal access to the higher levels of care afforded to those already enrolled in CurrentCare,” said President and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute Laura Adams.

VAMC providers in Rhode Island will also be able to use CurrentCare Viewer to access additional patient information not necessarily present in their own patient EHRs.

READ MORE: VA Hospital Connects to NY Health Information Exchange

VAMC will have instant access to up-to-date information regarding veteran patient medications, test results, and hospital and emergency department visits at any of the 475 community-based healthcare organizations and facilities in the state.

“Many veterans receive care both in the VA system and from non-VA community providers,” said Chief of Primary Care at the Providence VAMC Paul Pirraglia, MD, MPH. “Coordination of care is critical to care quality and patient safety.”

Veteran patient information is stored in a national database allowing non-VA providers in Rhode Island to access veteran health data regardless of where in the country a patient normally receives care.

To display VA data in CurrentCare, however, veterans need to be enrolled in CurrentCare and VA’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record Health Information Exchange program.

The Health Care Coordination for Rhode Island Veterans project follows another recent effort to bring bidirectional health data exchange to veterans through an external connection between the VA EHR system and a state’s HIE.

READ MORE: VA Pours Resources into EHR, Health IT Modernization Efforts

Last week, the Vermont Health Information Exchange successfully connected to the VA Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record to improve transitions of care between VA healthcare facilities and the community.

With the help of Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Inc. (VITL), the state’s HIE linked up with solutions vendor Medicity to enable bidirectional data exchange making veteran patient health records available to both VA and non-VA providers in Vermont.

Health information exchange consolidation

Elsewhere in health information exchange, The New Mexico Health Information Collaborative is joining forces with Paso del Norte Health Information Exchange (PHIX) to deliver faster, easier access to patient EHRs for hospitals and physicians.

The two regional health information organizations intend to reduce medical errors in New Mexico and west Texas to decrease costs and instances of patient harm.

Through the partnership, the health information exchanges will enable residents in either area to easily share their health information with providers when crossing state lines. 

"Patients from southern New Mexico seek health care in other regions of New Mexico as well as west Texas," stated officials from the New Mexico Health Information Collaborative. "Likewise, patients residing in west Texas are often treated in New Mexico. Our goal is to ensure that hospitals, providers and patients benefit from interoperable data exchange across these regions."

While the partnership has not yet been finalized, discussions between the organizations are underway.

Presently, both entities are looking for feedback from stakeholders regarding the best way to formalize the relationship and optimize opportunities to improve health data exchange and interoperability. 



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