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DOD, VA launch Joint Health Information Exchange

Image of soldier putting away a paper file The sharing of Health Information Exchanges with the VA will further enhance the DOD's electronic health records and improve outcomes for all beneficiaries. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Valentina Viglianco)

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Military Health System beneficiaries are reaping gains as the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs launch the joint health information exchange. With the joint HIE, MHS providers gain access to VA's community health care partners’ records, and VA providers gain access to MHS community health care partners’ records.

“The recent COVID-19 pandemic underlines the importance for clinicians on the front lines to quickly access a patient’s health record, regardless of where that patient previously received care,” said Dr. Neil Evans, the interim director of the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization program office. 

“As the DOD and VA implement a single, common record, the joint health information exchange and the associated expansion of community exchange partners is a critical step forward, delivering immediate value to all DOD and VA sites,” Evans said.

This development significantly expands DOD’s network of health care providers sharing information, said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Thomas Cantilina, deputy MHS functional champion. 

"Since about 60% of DOD specialty care occurs in this network, this will have a huge impact," Catalina said. 

A health information exchange is like an online records room. Providers can go here to safely and securely access and share their patients' health information and medical records electronically. This integration leads to efficiencies and supports more informed decision-making for the health care of service members, veterans, and family members,¬ regardless of where they access this care.

The joint HIE capability honors patient consent, Evans said. The departments will not exchange health records of beneficiaries who opt out of sharing.

MHS has operated its own HIEs for decades, sharing health information electronically between providers at military treatment facilities and VA facilities as well as between MTF providers and community health care partners. But MHS providers could access only MHS community health care partners' data. In turn, VA providers could access only VA community health care partners' data. Now, data from all community partners will be accessible to all providers.

"In addition to being available to MHS GENESIS users, data shared through the joint HIE is available via the Joint Longitudinal Viewer to users of the previous version of the electronic health record," Catalina said.

Deployment of the new electronic health record began in February 2017. MHS GENESIS provides enhanced, secure technology to manage and connect medical and dental health information across the continuum of care. When fully deployed, it will provide a single health record for service members, veterans, and their families.

Currently, MHS GENESIS is deployed at eight MHS sites. Eventually, MHS GENESIS will replace all legacy health records software. 

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