Expanding electronic health data sharing network supports veterans and their families
(Vienna, VA – November 9, 2017) – Over 1.5 million Veterans enrolled with the Department of Veterans (VA) have been identified as receiving part of their care with one or more of VA’s eHealth Exchange Community Healthcare Partners. These Veteran’s medical records are available for bidirectional exchange between VA and community clinicians for better care coordination with private sector health care providers. Currently, Veterans are required to sign an authorization form before VA may release their health information to participating Community providers, referred to “opting in.” To date, 366,922 Veterans, out of the 8.9 million Veterans enrolled in the VA health care system, have opted in, which represents only 4% of Veterans receiving care at VA. Congress is now discussing a bill that will allow all Veterans to be automatically opted into the health information exchange, opening up this exchange to the available 8.9 million Veterans. Having their health information more readily accessible enables these Veterans to receive more effective and efficient care when they visit participating Community Care Sites, which 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 Information Exchange (VHIE), a program of 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 Jennifer Rosas, director of the eHealth Exchange. “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.”
Being able to share health records with private sector healthcare providers is critical to care effectively for Veterans and their families. This will remain crucial as Veterans increase the care they receive in the private sector – an estimated 40-60% over the next 10 years.
The eHealth Exchange is the principal way that private sector health care providers are able to share health information with federal agencies to support patient care, quality assurance and disability programs. The public-private partnership’s purpose is to exchange data between and among federal agencies. The network supports sharing health data such as medical history, allergies, medications, procedures, family history, and other vital data points for more informed care decisions.
In addition to sharing medical records for treatment in the private sector, the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE) also uses the eHealth Exchange to connect to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Defense (DoD). Since the SSA and VA health IT initiative launched in November 2016 to speed disability determinations, one million Veteran records have been shared, enabling all Social Security disability case processing sites to receive medical records electronically from all VA facilities.
“Veterans often have complex care needs, due to the nature of their injuries and stress from their military service,” said Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project. “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.”
*Updated November 20, 2017*