Science and Technology News

Monday, January 25, 2010

DoD and VA Continue to Work Toward Interoperability

By Krista Holyak

January 25, 2010 - “The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs currently share significant and unprecedented amounts of health care data,” said Katharine Murray, MHS Chief of Interagency Coordination, at the 2010 MHS Conference on Monday, Jan. 25, 2010. Murray spoke at a conference session titled “DoD/VA Data Sharing – Successes to Date” that provided an overview of and discussion about what kinds of shared patient health data is available, how it may be accessed, and what changes are coming in terms of interoperability.

Lois Kellett, director of External Relationship Management (Office of the Chief Information Officer) and Peyton Issac, senior analyst for the Veterans Health Administration, also participated in the session.

The panelists made clear that DoD and VA must work together to provide the highest standard of care to those who serve the nation.

“Our first priority [is to] provide quality care for service members and veterans,” said Issac. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The session covered basic knowledge of DoD and VA health sharing initiatives, provided an understanding of how providers currently access health data through the departments’ electronic health records, and explained the factors influencing data sharing with private sector providers.

“As care patterns evolve, it’s becoming increasingly clear that DoD and VA not only be able to share information, [but] in the future they must be able to share information with community-based, private sector providers who deliver substantial amounts of care to veterans and DoD beneficiaries,” said Murray.

The MHS supports more than 9.5 million beneficiaries, and there are more than 7.7 million enrollees in the VHA. The ability for the two departments to share health information about their shared patients is critical to the patients’ continuity of care.

Working together toward a common goal, DoD and VA plan to increase inpatient documentation sharing, will continue to expand document scanning and image sharing capabilities, and improve usability and other enhancements as defined by functional users.

“DoD and VA will continue to enhance data sharing initiatives,” said Murray. “We will keep supporting these initiatives until full interoperability is accomplished.”

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