Article Highlights:

  • To be most clinically effective, and as routinely occurs in private care, referral providers (CCN providers in the context of the VA) must have access to the medical history and essential records of the veterans in their care. Unfortunately, historical VHA medical systems were not built with the intent of ever sharing patient data outside of the tightly controlled and secure military-like environment. So, as it exists today, veterans records are primarily shared through manual efforts – CDs for imaging and paper files for other data types.
  • Interoperable technology to exchange important clinical data and images has existed for nearly 15 years, but adoption has been slower than the need. Implementing new technology and driving change management within a healthcare facility to shift workflows and processes across a health system as large as the VA is a huge undertaking. It may involve growing pains during the transition, but the value of enhanced accessibility of data will be substantial in addition to significant cost savings when repeat imaging is reduced and outdated technology eliminated.
  • ONC rules will have a tremendous impact on advancing interoperability with a mission to improve care and keep patients at the center with access to their health data in convenient formats. Veterans and civilian patients alike will be able to access their health data and share it with care teams through apps, creating an experience similar to how banking information is accessed and money is transferred or how photos are shared through the cloud.

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