Veterans Affairs

VA edges closer to rollout of new health record platform

 Shutterstock image: global health.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is edging closer to full deployment of a web-based modular electronic health record platform that promises to build on improvements in interoperability within VA and between VA and the Defense Department.

Officials hope to have the Enterprise Health Management Platform up and running by the end of this summer.

EHMP is a dynamic, web-based way to organize, display, search, filter and share patient data from VA's open-source VistA health record. EHMP provides a virtual space to develop and deploy specialized health and wellness applications for use by VA providers.

The goal of EHMP is to create "a state where we have a veteran-centric record" that allows doctors and veterans to access medical information on demand, said David Waltman, chief information strategy officer at VA's Veterans Health Administration, during a demo for reporters at VA's Washington headquarters.

"The interoperability between the VA and the [DOD] record system exceeds any electronic health record systems that are anywhere in the nongovernment environment," he added.

EHMP also lets users customize the interface -- which displays information on patients' clinical encounters, vital signs, medication history, lab results, allergies and medical conditions -- to allow doctors to spend more time interacting with patients.

Waltman estimated that 110,000 users at VA facilities have access to the Joint Legacy Viewer, a system developed by the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office. He called JLV "a great incremental improvement" that provided the "pipes" that allow developers to work much faster now that the interoperability groundwork has been laid.

Although EHMP was built in-house, "the key is we don't want to be our own vendor forever," said Jonathan Nebeker, VA's deputy chief medical informatics officer.

"We want to work with industry, we want to help lead industry to get to this place," he added. "We're hoping that industry will co-opt what we've built here, and maybe even commercialize what we've built because it's open-sourced."

VA designed and published a software development kit, available publicly for download, that includes instructions on how to use and connect the software with other platforms, such as EHR systems from Cerner and the Fitbit consumer fitness tracker.

Waltman said the interface will be fully deployed and available at all VA facilities by the end of the summer but added "that doesn't mean everybody everywhere will be able to use it."

He said the department expects EHMP to fully replace the Computerized Patient Record System, VA's long-standing system that only allows individual facilities to view patient records, by the end of 2018.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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