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VA Completes Another Health Information Exchange Connection

The completion of a connection to New Hampshire's statewide HIE will benefit veterans throughout the Granite State.

- The Department of Veterans Affairs continues extending the reach of its health data in its most recent connection to New Hampshire’s statewide health information exchange.

Health information exchange in New Hampshire

Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Health Information Organization (NHHIO) announced a successful connection between the HIE and VA.

“For those veterans receiving care outside of the VA system, there is often times a disconnect between the VA and the outside providers when relying on paper-based methods to communicate important health information,” the organization said in a public statement.

“This electronic connection between the VA and NHHIO will help ensure that pertinent information is in the hands of the provider at the time of service, where they are able to make more informed decisions about the care of the veteran,” it continued. “Simply put, HIE technology provides faster access to information that can saves lives, streamline care coordination, reduce healthcare costs, and can improve clinical outcomes for NH veterans.”

According NHHIO Executive Jeff Loughlin, himself a veteran, the VA connection to the HIE should provide a boost in the arm for veteran access to health care and beneficial for providing determining appropriate care.

“This is a big win for NH Veterans,” he said. “This connection helps to remove some of the barriers in communication and care faced on a daily basis.”

The successful health information exchange connection in New Hampshire comes just a few weeks after VA and the Social Services Administration announced a partnership with The Sequoia Project, operators of the eHealth Exchange and Carequality, to improve data sharing between the two federal agencies.

The health IT partnerships means that Social Security disability case processing sites will have electronic access to VA medical records.

"Currently, when eligible Veterans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the average wait time for Social Security to receive paper records from VA can take months; this partnership allows Social Security and VA to share the Veteran's health information electronically in minutes,” said VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin, MD. “The Social Security and VA partnership allows VA to continue to be a leader in interoperability efforts among federal partners while improving overall quality of life for our Veteran patients."

Michael Matthews, who chairs the board at The Sequoia Project as well as sits on the eHealth Exchange Coordinating Committee, emphasized the importance of the collaboration in helping veterans receiving care at a combination of private and public sector facilities.

“The military population has unique care needs due to their types of injuries as well as the mobile nature of deployments,” he explained.  “Regardless of what a patient is being treated for or where they are being treated, collaboration with the private sector via the eHealth Exchange helps deliver effective care for veterans, servicemen and women as well as their families.

Around the same time as the NHHIO-VA announcement, The Sequoia Project made public a collaboration with the Radiological Society of North America leading to the validation of the first seven vendors in the latter’s program for image sharing: Agfa Healthcare, AMBRA Health, GE Healthcare, Lexmark Healthcare, LifeImage, Inc., Mach7 Technologies, and Novarad.

“Validation provides a number of benefits to providers and patients,” said Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project. “Vendors who achieve the RSNA Image Validation seal are empowering their physicians to more readily exchange medical images with other providers and their patients across multiple technology platforms to enhance quality of care, improve efficiency, and reduce costs. There is also synergy created among the approved vendors to spur standards-based interoperability innovations.”

The RSNA Image Share Validation program applies to developers of imaging systems, including radiology information systems (RIS) to picture archiving and communication systems (PACS).

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