How the UNHIN can impact the Department of Veteran Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs (DOVA) includes the largest health system in the United States and the second largest agency in the federal government. Yet, they face the greatest problems. One of the major issues with the VA system is the lack of sophisticated technology.

Electronic health records are particularly crucial for optimizing the health care provided to veterans, many of whom may have health records residing at multiple medical facilities within and outside the United States. Taking steps toward interoperability—that is, collecting, storing, retrieving, and transferring veterans’ health records electronically—is significant to improving the quality and efficiency of care. One of the goals of interoperability is to ensure that patients’ electronic health information is available from provider to provider, regardless of where it originated or resides.

Since 1998, VA has undertaken a patchwork of initiatives with Department of Defense (DOD) to allow the departments’ health information systems to exchange information and increase interoperability. In March 2011, the secretaries of VA and DOD announced that they would develop a new, joint integrated electronic health record system (referred to as iEHR). This was intended to replace the departments’ separate systems with a single common system, thus, sidestepping many of the challenges they had previously encountered in trying to achieve interoperability. However, in February 2013, about 2 years after initiating iEHR, the secretaries announced that the departments were abandoning plans to develop a joint system, due to concerns about the program’s cost, schedule, and ability to meet deadlines.

This is a great case of where UNHIN would be a life changer to this industry. UNHIN will achieve the highest level of interoperability which will help so many of our veterans get the highest level of care they deserve. Veterans will be empowered with their healthcare by providing them access to and control over their health information in their UNHIN health wallet no matter where they got care. The level of data protection and security provided by the UNHIN will exceed prevalent standards such as HIPAA while, providing patient centric health records that provide consolidated health information for each individual on its decentralized, secure, community driven blockchain based network for healthcare.

When an actively serving member of the military or a veteran walks into any doctor’s office anywhere in the world the physician will be able to treat and diagnose it in the most effective manner as the veteran’s health history would be at their fingertips. This also includes health information for actively serving professionals who transition to veteran status. Veterans are susceptible to military-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and toxic exposures, which can manifest later in life depending on what they did in years of service, so that health information from the time they were serving can prove invaluable for physicians.

In addition, the UNHIN will help research on veteran-specific conditions throughout the health care system. This will enable research for benefiting veterans’ families, something that is currently not at all well covered.

References

  1. VETERANS AFFAIRS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Management Attention Needed to Improve Critical System Modernizations, Consolidate Data Centers, and Retire Legacy Systems: https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-408T
  2. 12 Ways Civilian Health Care Can Meet Its Social Responsibility To Veterans: https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20180719.674948/full/
  3. The Universal Health Information Network (UNHIN): https://unhin.org
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