VA keeps eyes on the prize: Interoperability for Veterans
Veterans and active service members deserve an effective, interoperable healthcare system. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) understands the importance of seamless data exchange for these patients and their families – no matter where or when they see a clinician.
It’s why the VA took a strategic pause in January to fully assess the interoperability capabilities of the electronic health record (EHR) system it selected to replace the Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA). In fact, one of the most significant reasons to replace VistA – a homegrown platform in use since the 1970s – is to increase interoperable capabilities.
Open programs are vital to providing coordinated care between the VA and private sector. As an example, Allscripts has common connections to some VA facilities and is continuing to facilitate the sharing and exchange of information between the VA facilities and private hospitals and/or physician practices that use a variety of vendor EHR systems. dbMotion powers the ClinicalConnect HIE in western Pennsylvania, which is connected to the National Health Information Network (NHIN) eHealth Exchange. The technology we provide ensures effective data exchange across teams and locations in real time, as well as helps monitor specific patient population needs
In a recent House Appropriations hearing, the VA’s commitment to interoperability remained clear. To enable the bidirectional, EHR-agnostic digital exchange that Veterans deserve, the VA appears committed to open application programming interfaces (APIs) and Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standards. It also remains equally opposed to information blocking.
Open APIs will play a critical role
The VA launch of LightHouse and its own developer program is a significant advancement. Open APIs will play a critical role as the VA addresses the challenge of connecting its new EHR, VistA and the Department of Defense’s current EHR to each other and community physicians seeing active and retired personnel as part of the CHOICE program. Up to one-third of VA patients could be receiving care from the private sector, and that number will only grow over time.
We applaud the VA’s Open API pledge, and hope others in the industry will join this voluntary collaboration to improve healthcare for Veterans and their families. We have supported an open architecture and open APIs since 2007 and have enabled more than 3.6 billion data shares since 2013.
More than 7,600 third-party developers work within the Allscripts Developer Portal to deploy solutions using FHIR-enabled and Allscripts APIs, representing 450+ companies signed up at the Integrator or Partner level of our program. Nearly 200 certified apps are currently available to our users through the company’s application store.
Modernizing the VA health IT infrastructure will be a monumental task that requires significant investment; we are encouraged that the VA recognizes the critical role interoperability will play in the success of this investment.