The coordination of quality and safe healthcare depends on the health information exchange established by a healthcare provider. An entity with one of the strongest backgrounds in using health information exchange for electronic health records is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Many of the veterans seeking care through the VA also see doctors or specialists in the private sector. Communication between the VA and the private sector is vitally important.
The VA is evaluating the level of quality they have between themselves and the private sector providers. The issue regarding the sharing of information electronically doesn’t only affect the VA – it’s something every medical provider has to consider as they approach their electronic health records (EHR) management. It’s not uncommon anymore for patients to see more than one doctor – in fact it’s rare that only one doctor or specialist will run across the patient’s medical records, which is why EHR are so important.
For veterans’ healthcare in the U.S., offering secure health data exchange is of great importance, and there are many health information exchanges providing this transfer of information. The VA and the Department of Defense have placed a focus on establishing a virtual lifetime electronic record, or VLER. This will be made available for all veterans and service members for a central place to store their personal information regarding their health and benefits.
When veterans have total access to EHR through a health information exchange, they can expect better quality care with safer records transmissions. The costs should also be reduced as there will be fewer duplicated tests, which is something that patients often encounter when their images are lost. Rescheduling exams with the radiologists due to the fact that a proper health information exchange has not yet been adopted is something patients shouldn’t have to be subjected to. However, many radiology practices continue to hold on to their antiquated CD burning technology and sharing their images via CDs.
The VA has begun to develop a strategy where they will formally evaluate the various information exchange methods that healthcare providers use. They’ll be looking at the outcomes of these interactions, the systems being used, the number of veterans participating and the experience/satisfaction they have with the provider. When a proper health image exchange is in use, these outcomes are expected to far exceed the outcomes of the more antiquated methods providers use.
EHRs require a good amount of security and backup, which means the health image exchange must also have a disaster recovery plan in place, as well as a partnership with a highly secure data center.
OffSite Image Management, Inc., pulls out the stops when ensuring that patient data and images are safe by utilizing Level IV data centers where the security practices are state of the art.