Defense Department, Veterans Affairs HIE expands to TRICARE members

The Virtual Lifetime EHR Information Exchange Imitative (VLER-HIE)--which connects health and benefit information systems between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA)--will expand to TRICARE network providers, according to new information from the VA.

The move, which went into effect this week, will include not only military hospitals and clinics but also civilian providers participating in the joint eHealth Exchange. The program already applies to active duty service members, veterans and beneficiaries from pilot sites. It will now be available to all patients who have records in the DoD's clinical repository.

According to the VA, Sharing through the eHealth Exchange:

  • Gives patients' providers a more complete view of their health record
  • Helps patients and their healthcare team make the best health decisions 
  • Shares patients' military health records with civilian providers
  • Can prove useful in the case of emergencies where patients or families aren't physically able to share necessary information

The information shared through the eHealth exchange is the same that can be seen through the Blue Button Initiative. However, sensitive data, such as information about sexually transmitted diseases or substance abuse, will not be shared. Active duty service members must participate; all others can opt out.

The pilot program was launched after President Barack Obama's direction in 2009 to DoD and the VA to create a unified lifetime EHR for members of the armed forces. It shares health information electronically between the VA, DoD and selected private healthcare faculties partnered with the VA to provide treatment to participants. It is not the same as a joint, fully integrated EHR; that initiative was abandoned by the DoD and VA in 2013.

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