Hampton VA Medical Center
Hampton VAMC Pilots data sharing to improve care
The Hampton VAMC is leading the way to improve patient care piloting VA’s Hampton VAMC Pilots data sharing to improve care (VLER) health community project. This innovative medical data exchange program enables clinicians from the Hampton VAMC, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Bon Secours and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, to obtain a more comprehensive view of a patient’s health issues, medications and allergies by using electronic health record information.
The program provides a technology “gateway” to support interoperability standards and a legal framework for the secure exchange of health information between treating physicians, when authorized by a patient. In the future, clinicians from participating organizations can electronically, securely, and privately share authorized patient data, ensuring around-the-clock access to critical health information.
Primary care physician Dr. Zewditu Tekleberhan and nurse practitioner Carmen Roaquin agreed that VLER is on the mark when it comes to the next step in health care. Both are excited that the Hampton VAMC was selected as a pilot site and said they are anxiously awaiting the full launch of the program which is targeted to begin in 2011. In the meantime, the medical staff is being trained and becoming familiar with the process.
“VA providers will be able to quickly see certain medical tests and a list of medicines that Veterans receive from outside providers,” Tekleberhan said as she guided Roaquin step-by- step through the computer software. “This immediate electronic access supports increased accuracy, efficiency and safety and helps to avoid redundant care and testing.”
Roaquin pointed out that during these challenging economic times, everyone is looking for ways to save, and avoiding redundancy in testing is one more way of saving Veterans out of pocket costs. She also noted that VLER supports the “going green” concept through the reduction of paper records.
The Hampton VLER team invited more than 5,500 Veterans to participate in the new program. Those who enroll will enable their public and private sector health care providers and doctors to share specific health information electronically, safely, securely and privately.
“Doctors have recognized the importance of sharing medical information for years but the technology didn’t exist,” said Dr. Katherine Gianola, Hampton VAMC Clinical Informatics community coordinator for the VLER project. “VLER now gives us the technology to cross systems securely and makes it possible to share these sensitive records so that our Veterans are better served.”
Gianola explained that the program puts the highest priority on patient privacy and data security, and no exchange of information will occur without the explicit permission of the individual patient. She pointed out that Veterans’ access to care will in no way be affected at institutions if they choose not to participate.
“The healthcare of our Veterans is our first priority at the Hampton VA and so we are excited about leading the effort in this pilot program,” said DeAnne M. Seekins, Hampton VAMC’s director, noting that the facility is the second site in the entire country to offer this healthcare without boundaries program. The initial pilot, which began last January in San Diego was a great success. “This program just furthers our commitment to providing our Veterans with safe, quality care, and provides us an opportunity to create stronger alliances with the private clinicians in the Hampton Roads area who serve our Nation’s heroes.”
Those with questions about VLER should contact the toll-free number at 1-877-771-VLER (8537).