This year, we were honored to have VA, representing all of its 151 VA medical centers, named to the 2013 “Most Wired” Hospitals list. The list is the result of a national survey aimed at ranking hospitals which are leveraging health information technology (HIT) in new and innovative ways.
The annual survey is released by Hospitals & Health Networks, in partnership with McKesson, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the American Hospital Association (AHA). Conducted between January 15, 2013, and March 15, 2013, the survey polled 1,713 hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions about their information technology (IT) initiatives.
As the nation’s largest health network, VA is always looking for ways to serve Veterans in the best, most efficient way possible—from hiring the best professionals to ensuring VA is using the most effective technologies in its health care services. We are constantly working to improve our practices and enhance our understanding of which technologies work best for our network.
We are always working to be ahead of the curve in providing “wired” ways for Veterans to communicate with their health care professionals and those health care professionals to communicate with each other. Several of our programs – which provide benefits to Veterans, health care professionals and Caregivers alike – are outlined below.
Mobile Health: How cool would it be to be able to get health care information from an iPad? At VA, it’s now an option. VA recently released several health care apps for iOS operating systems. The apps address various health issues that Veterans may face, including difficulty sleeping, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), psychological first aid (PFA) and smoking cessation.
My HealtheVet with VA Blue Button: These tools put a number of easy-to-use online resources at Veterans’ fingertips. With My HealtheVet, Veterans improve their health and communication with their VA health care team by using Secure Messaging. With recent enhancements to the VA Blue Button, which occurred in January and June 2013, it is more convenient and efficient for Veterans to access information in their health record.
VA Blue Button enhancements allow patients more timely access to information, expands the types of self-reported information that all registered users can include, and enhances user-friendly functionalities. This includes more timely access to VA laboratory results, radiology reports, VA Notes, and Problem Lists, reducing the wait time from seven days to three days; and now all registered users can include My Goals in their VA Blue Button.
These are just a few examples of the ways we are making our system more wired and efficient for Veterans, health care providers, Caregivers and VA employees. To learn more, visit VA’s newly revamped homepage, where you can find information on VA’s services, locations, and other initiatives in support of Veterans.
Gail L. Graham is the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Informatics and Analytics.