VA expands lifetime electronic record pilot

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The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is expanding its Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) pilot program to share the electronic health records of more veterans, it announced announced last Thursday. The goal is to have 50,000 signed authorizations from veterans who are VA patients to participate in the pilot by the end of the fiscal year, according to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Shinseki also said in an announcement that the expansion would help to "improve continuity and timeliness of care, and eliminate gaps in healthcare information."

The expansion sites will be in Grand Junction, Colo.; rural Utah; Asheville and Western North Carolina; Buffalo; Charleston, South Carolina; Minneapolis; and Puget Sound, Wash. Currently, the program exists at sites in San Diego; Hampton, Virginia; Spokane, Wash.; Richmond, Va.;, and Indianapolis.

The VLER pilot was launched following President Obama's April 2009 direction to the Department of Defense (DoD) and the VA to create a unified lifetime EHR for members of the armed forces. The program shares the veterans' health information electronically between the VA, the DoD and selected private healthcare facilities partnering with the VA to provide treatment to participants.

The program is being implemented by DoD's Personnel and Readiness Information Management (P&R IM), part of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.

Earlier this year, a Government Accountability Office study concluded that joint efforts by the DoD and the VA weren't as far along as they should have been in terms of planning.

To learn more:
- read the VA's press release 
- here's an overview from P&R IM

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