The Defense Department and the Veterans Affairs Department have launched a joint health information exchange designed to make it easier for the agencies to exchange patient data with one another, as well as with community providers.
The DOD, VA and the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization program office—the office that oversees the ongoing EHR implementations at both agencies—opened access to the HIE this past weekend. Providers from the agencies and private-sector providers treating their patients will be able to use the HIE to request access to health records of shared patients.
Patients will be able to opt out of having their health records shared on the HIE, according to the VA.
The HIE marks the latest interoperability effort from the DOD and VA.
In 2018 the VA signed a multibillion-dollar contract with Cerner Corp. to implement an EHR, in part because the DOD had already begun rolling out an EHR from the same company. The VA and DOD are now co-developing the EHR to ensure interoperability with one another, with a vision of creating a single record that follows a patient from their time in the military to veteran care.
"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," Dr. Neil Evans, the interim director of the Federal EHR Modernization program office, said in a statement.
The DOD and VA have delayed their respective implementations of the EHR on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later this year, the DOD and VA plan to connect the joint HIE to CommonWell, a national data-sharing network that links roughly 15,000 community providers.