VA, Georgia Tech to collaborate on health IT acceleration

A newly announced collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration and the Georgia Institute of Technology aims to streamline the development of new health technology tools and improve training efforts for workers charged with using such tools, with an underlying theme of promoting ongoing health IT efforts in the U.S.

Researchers from the VHA's Innovation Sandbox Cloud and Georgia Tech's Interoperability and Integration Innovation Lab (I3L) will team up to work on such projects. The former, according to VHA Office of Health Information Chief Officer Craig Luigart, is a "virtual space to facilitate health IT innovation through collaboration and the development of new ideas." The latter is a standards-based facility at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

While such collaborations are the goal of the federal government's Health Information Technology Innovation and Development Environments (HITIDE) initiative, established in 2011, this marks the first time an academic organization has connected to the VHA's system. The VHA's electronic health record system, known as VistA (the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture), will be used to test new tools, according to the announcement.

Jeff Evans, deputy director of the Information and Communications Laboratory at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, believes the collaborative is a big step forward into the future of healthcare. "The I3L will help us understand how to create conformance in interoperable systems and how in the future, all of the health and medical devices and systems can be tied together to create a seamless view of what's happening to the patient," he said, according to the announcement.

Earlier this month, Georgia Tech announced a collaboration with Lawrenceville, Ga.-based Gwinnett Technical College in which students participating in Gwinnett's health IT programs will have access to the I3L. Last fall the schools were awarded a $1.65 million grant for teaming up to boost job creation in health IT.

Georgia Tech this month also launched HomeLab, a statewide network of adults ages 50 and older recruited to test and evaluate consumer health and wellness products for aging adults.

For more information:
- read the Georgia Tech announcement
- here's the Gwinnett announcement

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