Test system integrates VA records with INHS
Two-year project applies to active soldiers, veterans
Spokane-based Inland Northwest Health Services will launch a test project with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Fairchild Air Force Base to simplify the sharing of medical information across private and federal systems.
INHS and representatives of the VA and Fairchild announced the project during a Wednesday press conference in downtown Spokane.
The Spokane test is one of four the VA is conducting to develop what will be a national system, called the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, designed for active service members and veterans.
Once in place, VLER will give patients a system for collecting pertinent medical information into one electronic file that will be secure and only accessed by designated caregivers.
Linda Fischetti, the chief health informatics officer for the VA, said both the military and the VA have already created their own medical records network, using integrated computer data.
But that data is on a secure, firewalled system that doesn’t allow private records to be integrated.
“The black hole we get (in our medical records),” Fischetti said, “is when we send a vet across the street to get an X-ray or some procedure from a private doctor or provider. We don’t currently have a way for that (private) medical information to be incorporated into our health records.”
The pilot test will run through 2012 and apply both to service members at Fairchild and thousands of veterans who use veterans’ medical services in this area.
Beyond 2012 the VA and the Defense Department plan to move toward national deployment of the VLER system, Fischetti said.
Spokane and INHS were chosen because this area has developed a successful and well-integrated medical records network, managed by INHS, a nonprofit entity.
The INHS network connects 38 area hospitals and facilities, allowing doctors and providers fast access to electronic medical information.
National health care experts say the same type of system is needed on a broad scale to eliminate errors in treatment and to help deliver more effective treatment to patients, whether in cities or in rural areas.
Efforts to move toward a nationwide system, Fischetti said, have been hampered by the variety of different regional medical systems that have not adopted a standard system for exchanging data.
Spokane’s pilot program will be voluntary, and each participating veteran or active duty member will have full control over personal information.
Veterans or service members who want to volunteer to use the test system can start by calling project managers at (877) 771-8537.