VA OIG: Improving VA and Select Community Care Health Information Exchanges

“The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review to determine how VA facilities and community providers utilize health information exchanges (HIEs) in their respective communities to share information and coordinate care for patients enrolled at a VA facility, and to identify any barriers that may be preventing utilization…”

“The VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act of 2018 included language to improve information sharing between VA and the community.Electronic exchange of healthcare information improves patient safety by allowing a bidirectional communication of veteran’s health conditions to develop a proactive comprehensive care plan.VA notified every enrolled veteran of the information sharing practice changes that would be taking place in 2020. In 2018, VA contracted with Cerner® Corporation (Cerner), a healthcare information technology corporation, for Electronic Health Records Modernization, under which Cerner was to provide project management and planning support.Implementation has been delayed, but the VHIE software platform will be replaced with Cerner software once it takes place. The Electronic Health Records Modernization is projected to take 10 years to complete…”

OIG Findings and Recommendations

“The OIG surveyed and interviewed the 48 lower complexity Level 2 and 3 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities. The OIG also interviewed staff from the VHIE Program Office, and met with the Office of Information Technology, Office of Community Care, Office of Rural Health, Cerner, and two state HIEs.The VHIE Program Office Director reported that all 140 VA facilities have access to VA Exchange and VA Direct; however, only 28 of the 140 VA facilities have implemented VA Direct. Facilities not utilizing VA Direct reported that they were not provided training facilitated by DirectTrust™ (DirectTrust), did not have community partners using DirectTrust, or were using other HIEs. Expansion of VA Direct usage to all facilities would increase the instances of health information sharing and improve the timeliness of health information exchange while efforts continue wi th development of community partnerships through VA Exchange…”

“The OIG made four recommendations to the Under Secretary for Health related to the need for increased utilization of VA Direct, education for staff and veterans on VA Exchange and VA Direct, expansion of community partnerships, and use of contract VHIE community coordinators.”

Access the full 51-page report here.

Source: Improving VA and Select Community Care Health Information Exchanges – August 6, 2020. VA OIG.

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