Veterans are now benefitting from a joint effort to share health records with community health care partners, which launched April 18.
The joint health information exchange, or HIE, helps Veterans by allowing VA and Department of Defense health care systems to quickly and securely share patient records with community health care partners.
The new system also allows sharing when a Veteran or DOD beneficiary is being seen by the community partner. VA and DOD health care providers can review records from external partners for continuity of care. The joint HIE can reduce the burden on Veterans to share their health history multiple times. This also helps Veterans avoid duplicative tests or carrying printed health records.
“When clinicians have a more comprehensive picture of their patient’s health data, including data from private sector providers, this improves the quality of health care,” said Dr. Neil Evans, the interim director of the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) program office. “The health information being exchanged should enable patient-provider conversations to start more productively and lead to a better experience for Veterans.”
Building upon the success of VA’s health information exchange work, known as VHIE, the joint HIE creates an enhanced platform that will support significant expansion of VA and DOD’s community exchange partnerships. Later this year, the joint HIE will add a sizeable network of partners, dramatically increasing by more than 15,000 the total number of community partners VA and DOD can exchange data with, making it much more likely that a Veteran’s health records—including prescriptions, allergies and medical notes—from the private sector will be conveniently available to their VA provider during and between their appointments.
The joint HIE honors patient consent. Health records of patients who opt out of sharing will not be exchanged through the HIE. Veterans who want to opt out can do so through My HealtheVet or visit www.va.gov/VHIE/VHIE_Sharing_Options.asp to learn more.
About the system
The health data sharing capability is a joint effort between the FEHRM, VA and DOD. The HIE—which includes DOD, VA and the private sector—connects VA and DOD together with more than 2,000 hospitals, 8,800 pharmacies, 33,000 clinics, 1,100 labs, 800 federally qualified health centers and 300 nursing homes.
“The recent COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance for clinicians on the front lines to be able to quickly access a patient’s health record, regardless of where that patient previously received care,” Evans said. “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.”
The benefits of the new joint HIE capability are available to all VA and DOD care providers and to all participating community partners. This new joint HIE capability is part of a broader effort to transform health care delivery for Service members and Veterans through implementation of modern health information technologies.
The FEHRM is working closely with VA, DOD and other partners to implement a single, common electronic health record to benefit Service members, Veterans and their families. By implementing the same EHR system and sharing the same health care data source, VA and DOD will document care from the time a patient enters the military and then through their care as a Veteran in one single, common health record.