Military EHR looks to bridge the civilian gap

Wednesday - 10/27/2010, 9:40am EDT

Navy Captain Michael S. Weiner, director, Electronic Health Record Way Ahead project, Defense Department

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The Virtual Lifetime Electronic Health Record, or V-LER, is the cornerstone of health information sharing between the Defense Department and the VA. Two recent pilot projects show that interoperable records and data exchange are tantalizingly close.

Now the goal, according to Navy Captain Michael S. Weiner, director of the Electronic Health Record Way Ahead project at the Defense Department, is to get everyone on the same digital page.

Even though the commercial market uses different standards, said Weiner, "I believe the federal government at this point is at a unique moment in time to help move the entire commercial space into standardized data so that we can freely communicate."

For example, at the Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Weiner told anchor Tom Temin a pilot project in the Tidewater, Virginia area is bearing fruit.

We started the base. The most important data that a clinician would want when a patient comes in, and that's allergies, patient's name, demographics, those sort of things, medications that they're on, past medical history. Things that really will determine in the first seconds how that patient needs to be addressed, certainly in an acute setting or in an outpatient setting. And then we'll begin to build upon that as the years go along.

Ideally, the data should flow in both directions, said Weiner, from military to civilian and back again. "What we really want to be able to do now is go out into the commercial space, so the civilian world, where many of our patients are seen and be able to bring that data back in." Right now, according to Weiner, only seven to 17 percent of civilian practices have a full electronic health record.

Weiner didn't sound concerned that the private sector wouldn't catch up. "I believe there's policies, and procedures and payments in place that will help move that forward, so we're all very excited."

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