The Department of Veterans Affairs, representing all of its health care facilities nationwide, is a 2016 “Most Wired” health care system. This is the fourth consecutive year VA has been designated for the honor, which distinguishes VA’s health care system as a leader in clinical integration and adoption of health Information Technology (HIT) to better care for our Nation’s Veterans.
Technology is improving the efficiency of care delivery and creating a new dynamic in patient interactions, according to results of the 18th Annual Health Care’s Most Wired® survey, released this month by the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum.
In redefining the way that they provide care in their communities, Most Wired hospitals such as VA health care facilities use technology to build patient engagement with the Veteran’s lifestyle in mind. For the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its Veteran patients, access to care means electronic access to their care team and the opportunity to use telehealth as an option for care.
Being named a 2016 Most Wired award winner distinguishes VA’s health care system as a leader in the implementation and use of Electronic Health Records (EHR), mobile health technology, and social media to better care for our nation’s Veterans – three criteria identified as significant in today’s health care delivery by Most Wired.
“VA pioneered electronic health records (EHR) and we have not stopped looking for ways to better serve our nation’s Veterans, demonstrating our commitment and investment through the use of health technology that improves quality, provides coordinated care, and engages Veterans in their own care management,” says Under Secretary for Health, David Shulkin, MD.
VA is a leader in telehealth services, an item new to the Most Wired survey. VA Telehealth services are critical to expanding access to VA care in more than 45 clinical areas.
As the nation’s largest health network, VA is constantly looking for ways to serve Veterans in the best, most efficient way possible with the use health IT. Over the past three years, VA has provided Veteran patients and VA health care teams with even more ways to connect and ensure 21st Century health care through the use of technology – from online sharing health data between VA, DoD, and community health partners to the deployment of a number of VA Apps to better serve patients and providers.
Introducing: The Digital Health Platform in VA
Honoring the lessons of the VA’s EHR legacy, VA teams across the country rely on health care providers, staff, and patients to shape the product. Health IT is not a stand-alone product in VA. VA understands that direct input from providers and patients alike will continue to enhance the way we deliver health care. Industry-leading care calls for much more than collaboration on a single EHR. VA is developing a cutting-edge platform that will transform the way it delivers health care to the Veteran.
Picking up where VistA leaves off, VA’s new Digital Health Platform (DHP) will enable a modern and integrated health care system that incorporates best-in-class technologies and standards. The use of open-sourced standards and cloud-based technologies bring together the best innovations in a framework to deliver an even more robust health IT platform for the nation’s Veterans, while ensuring the best use of public funding.
DHP provides a developer-facing Application Programming Interface (API), unifies VA’s data stores, connects patient to provider in real-time, and implements predictive care to provide a better experience to the Veteran.
“VA is committed to implementing cutting-edge technology that adapts and responds to these evolving demographics and market innovations, and DHP does just that,” said the Honorable Lavern Council, VA’s Chief Information Officer. “Over the next 18 months, we will evaluate costs and assess our options. We look forward to working with our partners at VHA and leveraging industry to develop a comprehensive proof of concept and implementation plan for DHP to take effect at the conclusion of VistA 4.”
DHP is part of VA’s efforts to align with Secretary McDonald’s MyVA Breakthrough Priority of transforming OI&T to improve the Veteran experience, establish a culture of continuous improvement, and enhance strategic partnerships.
“VA is undergoing a historic transformation, guided by Secretary McDonald’s MyVA initiative that calls for us to innovate, collaborate, and succeed for the Veteran” said the Honorable Dr. David Shulkin, VHA Under Secretary for Health. “That is why I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with CIO Council and our team members in OI&T to build the strategic framework for DHP. VA has a history of being a pioneer in the health care IT space, and we stand poised to continue that legacy with VA’s new digital health platform.”
Detailed results of the survey and study can be found in the July issue of H&HN. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.
About the Author: Murielle Beene is the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at VHA.