The Department of Veterans Affairs has joined the HEALTHeLINK exchange.
Western New York is one of 13 communities in the United States selected by VA to participate in the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record Health Communities Program. Participating physicians from VA, private practices and hospitals across Western New York will be able to access critical health information for their veteran patients through HEALTHeLINK, Western New York's clinical information exchange.
"The VLER program is aimed at creating a more convenient and comprehensive medical, personnel and benefits record for all Veterans, in addition to creating a seamless transition from military to civilian life," said Brian G. Stiller, director of the VA Western New York Healthcare System. "One of our priorities is to eliminate the need for our Veteran patients to carry paper copies of their health records to private providers. The information will be accessible with a Veteran's consent from military to VA to private-sector health care."
The program allows VA health care teams and community providers to access all laboratory, radiology and transcribed reports as well as medication history through HEALTHeLINK's health information exchange. A signed consent form for both VA and HEALTHeLINK is needed for veterans to authorize their treating physicians to safely and securely access health information electronically. Veterans can enroll in person at either the Buffalo or Batavia VA facility's Release of Information Office or Veterans Service Center. Forms can also be found online at www.buffalo.va.gov/vler.asp. HEALTHeLINK is coordinating its activities on this initiative with the Nationwide Health Information Network through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"HEALTHeLINK's participation in the VLER program is another example of how collaboration among health care organizations on health information technology initiatives is transforming patient care in Western New York," said Daniel E. Porreca, executive director of HEALTHeLINK. "This partnership allows medical information to be exchanged among treating physicians, whether at a VA facility, a hospital emergency room or at a primary care or specialist doctor's office, enabling more informed decisions and improved patient outcomes for our local veterans."
HEALTHeLINK is part of the Western New York Beacon Community, one of 17 selected Communities across the country. As a Beacon Community, HEALTHeLINK and Western New York received a $16.1 million grant from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the Health and Human Services Department to build and strengthen local health information technology infrastructure and test approaches to make measurable improvements in health, care and cost. The grant also focuses on improving clinical outcomes and patient safety with a focus on diabetes care management, through the use of health information technology and health information exchange.
"After two years of hard work, the Western New York Beacon Community Program continues to set an example for the nation by advancing health information technology to improve health care cost, quality and population health," said Craig Brammer, director of the Beacon Communities Program, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "The launch of the HEALTHeLINK and VA partnership is an important step towards ensuring more seamless and coordinated care for patients across the region."