Wednesday, November 25, 2009

VA and Kaiser Permanente Invite Veterans to Participate in Health Record Pilot Program

VA and Kaiser Permanente Invite Veterans to Participate in

Health Record Pilot Program

Working Together to Share Records Safely, Improve Care



WASHINGTON (Nov. 25, 2009) - The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and
Kaiser Permanente today announced an exciting program designed to
improve care and services to our Nation's heroes.  VA and Kaiser
Permanente are launching a pilot program to exchange electronic health
record (EHR) information using the Nationwide Health Information Network
(NHIN) created by the Department of Health and Human Services.



"The ability to share critical health information is essential to
interoperability," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric K. Shinseki.
"Utilizing the NHIN's standards and network will allow organizations
like VA and the Department of Defense to partner with private sector
health care providers to promote better, faster and safer care for
Veterans."



This week, VA and Kaiser Permanente will send a joint letter to Veterans
in the San Diego area who receive care from both institutions, to invite
Veterans to participate in this first-ever pilot program.  Veterans, who
respond and ask to participate, will enable their public and private
sector health care providers and doctors to share specific health
information electronically, safely, securely and privately.  This
initial pilot is planned to begin in mid-December 2009.



"This partnership demonstrates the power of a large-scale EHR that
safely connects several care systems.  Securely digitizing American's
health care information is only the first step in realizing the cost
saving and improved quality benefits possible with health care
technology," said Andrew M. Wiesenthal, MD, associate executive director
of The Permanente Federation. "The reality is that most people receive
care from multiple providers.  Without the ability for caregivers and
patients to have access to their data, all of the time, there is the
possibility for wasted time and resources duplicating tests and
procedures.  Exchange of current health record data at the point of
treatment also improves quality, allowing medical decisions to be made
quickly, with the relevant background."



The pilot program connects Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect(r) and the
VA's electronic health record system, VistA, two of the largest
electronic health record systems in the country.



The program puts the highest priority on patient privacy and data
security, and no exchange of information will occur without the explicit
permission of the individual patient. Explicit policies and technologies
to safeguard patient information are part of the NHIN. Patient
information will not be shared without first obtaining their consent.
Veterans' access to care will in no way be affected at either
institution if they choose not to participate.  Patients who do choose
to participate will benefit by allowing their doctors at any one of the
institutions to obtain key health record information from other
participating institutions.



VA, DoD, and HHS have been working closely to create a system that will
modernize the way health care is delivered and benefits are
administered.  DoD will be included in the next phase of the pilot
program in early 2010.