The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently reviewed usage health information exchanges (HIEs) at 48 VA facilities and community providers for possible barriers to their use.

“The Veterans Health Information Exchange program office has two methods to share information with the community, via internet exchange (VA Exchange) and email exchange (VA Direct),” the OIG report said. “Exchanging health information electronically provides a secure method for healthcare providers to share veteran health information.”

During this review, the OIG found – via interviews with staff – that most impediments come through “training, the need for more community partners, use of contract community coordinators, and technology.” Facilities using VA Exchange or VA Direct felt more community participation would result in achieving more program goals.

The VA OIG made four recommendations to which the Under Secretary for Health concurred:

  1. Review barriers to the utilization of VA Direct and ensure the Veterans HIE Program Office increases the number of facilities using VA Direct;
  2. Ensure the Veterans HIE Program Office evaluates the training programs behind VA Exchange and VA Direct and increase the accessibility to Veterans Health Administration staff, community partners, and veterans;
  3. Ensure the Veterans HIE Program Office increases the number of community partners, including increasing the number of state exchanges and other HIE stakeholders, to facilitate bidirectional health information exchange expansion; and
  4. Confirm the Veterans HIE Program Office evaluates the performance work statements of the Veterans Health Information Exchange community coordinators and ensures compliance.
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.