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Vidant Health works with VA to allow access to veterans’ health records

June 30, 2015 by Beth Anne Atkins

GREENVILLE, NC – Vidant Health and the Veterans Administration (VA) are working together to share health information on veterans treated at Vidant Health facilities. The VA’s Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health Exchange program gives VA and non-VA health care providers secure access to certain parts of veterans’ electronic health records. 


“Many veterans use non-VA health care providers in addition to their VA providers. The ability to exchange information in patients’ electronic health records gives clinicians access to a more complete summary of veterans’ health and the ability to provide more comprehensive care,” said Dr. David Michael, chief medical information officer, Vidant Health. 


Allowing VA and non-VA health care providers to share health information saves time and gives providers a better understanding of history and overall health. Rather than mailing or carrying printed health information from one provider to another, veterans can give providers immediate access to health information electronically. This information helps providers make more informed decisions, which improves the overall quality and safety of health care. 


VA requires a veteran-sign authorization prior to sharing health information with non-VA providers of the eHealth Exchange. Veterans can sign up at any time, preferably in advance of their visit to a physician, urgent care center, emergency room or hospital, ensuring the veteran’s relevant health information is available when needed. Veterans should visit http://www.va.gov/VLER/ to learn more or to sign up for the VLER Health Exchange.


Both Vidant Health and VA are connected to the eHealth Exchange, the federal level health information exchange (HIE) that allows federal agencies and non-federal organizations to come together under a common mission and purpose to improve patient care, streamline disability benefit claims and improve public health reporting through secure, trusted and interoperable health information exchange. The partners securely share clinical information across the US, using a standardized approach. The eHealth Exchange connectivity spans across all 50 states and is the largest HIE network in the US. 

  
Being a part of the eHealth Exchange allows Vidant Health to provide a framework for interoperability, so that wherever the patient goes – between health care facilities in the same town or across state and national borders – the clinicians providing care can have the information they need. Information can come from any electronic medical record that complies with industry standards, or directly from the patient. Electronic health information exchange provides a fast, secure, and reliable way to share vital health information among providers involved in treatment of a patient. The health information is shared in accordance with federal and state law.


“With eastern North Carolina being a popular destination for tourists, people come here from everywhere and don’t’ have their patient records or medication lists with them. Sharing information expedites accurate patient intake,” said Donette Herring, chief information officer, Vidant Health. “It gives Vidant Health providers and nurses a fast and simple way to exchange patient information such as medications, allergies, problems, notes and labs with other organization and hospitals.” 


“Having this program in place is the right thing to do for patients to prevent gaps in care,” said Herring. “We are hopeful that with all of these different pieces in place, we will now be able to move forward with electronic health record sharing with other governmental agencies to expedite the processing of forms and applications.” 

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