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New Technology Allows VA and DoD to Share Patient Records

March 13, 2009

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“VA and DoD are now sharing almost all essential health information that is available electronically in a viewable format,” Gerald Cross, M.D., Veterans Health Administration principal deputy under secretary for health, said at a Pentagon news conference recently. Above, a soldier fires his M-240 machine gun from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter during a mission near Balad, Iraq. Returning troops can be assured a VA doctor can look up his or her DoD medical record and review the results of all the lab tests taken at a DoD medical facility.
Photo by: Photo by CPT Randy Stillinger, Texas Army National Guard, 36th Combat Aviation Brigade

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Software platforms that bridge the medical databases of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Denfense (DoD) are improving military health care.

One piece of this architecture, the Bidirectional Health Information Exchange, is a data exchange initiative that permits DoD and VA clinicians to view in real time the electronic health care information stored on each other’s computer systems.

“VA and DoD are now sharing almost all essential health information that is available electronically in a viewable format,” Gerald Cross, M.D., Veterans Health Administration principal deputy under secretary for health, said at a Pentagon news conference recently. “That means that a VA doctor … can look at veteran’s DoD medical record and see if the patient has any known conditions like allergies, and the doctor can look up the vital signs and review the results of all the lab tests taken at a DoD medical facility.”

The system, now operable at all VA and DoD medical facilities, is one highlight of an electronic information sharing effort between the two departments that dates back to 2001. Cross and DoD officials provided an update on the overall interagency health information sharing efforts. He emphasized the initiatives were about much more than technology.

“These joint efforts are a testament to the power of collaboration and proof of the great things VA and DoD can accomplish when we work together on behalf of America’s heroes,” he said, adding, “This is about continuity of care.”

Stephen Jones, Ph.D., principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said the interagency effort represents a breakthrough in medical information sharing. “In fact, current health information-sharing capabilities between DoD and VA are well ahead of those in the private sector in both scope and scale,” he said.