The research on coordinated care is clear: Patients experience better outcomes when medical teams operate within a connected healthcare ecosystem. Access to the patient’s complete medical history helps physicians make better decisions, reduces medical errors and eliminates duplicate diagnostic testing.
During the past several years, the US government has undertaken a number of initiatives to encourage healthcare practitioners to adopt and use electronic medical records (EMRs). One such project was the development of the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) program, a joint effort between the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop and implement an electronic health record system to allow secure sharing of data between civilian and military healthcare organizations.
There’s an urgent need for a way to share data since up to 60 percent of healthcare received by active duty personnel and 40 percent of veterans’ healthcare is delivered by civilian medical professionals. While numerous stakeholders are working collaboratively to ensure the success of VLER, optimal results can only be achieved if private practices support the initiative by filling both data-supplier and user roles. Quite simply, the program relies on active participation from all parties, including private practices.
Numerous challenges and opportunities have arisen from the introduction of VLER to private health organizations, and many lessons can be gleaned from the experience of enabling VLER portal access to providers:
The pilot VLER program has demonstrated how the vision of improving care with secure, universal access to medical data can become a reality. We’ve seen the potential for a wider application that can allow providers nationwide to deliver better outcomes through seamlessly coordinated care.