Sentara Healthcare and the Department of Defense are now able to securely share electronic patient health information across the nation using the eHealth Exchange.

Sentara, DoD exchange secure patient data

Sentara Logo

Sentara Healthcare and the Department of Defense are now able to securely share electronic patient health information across the nation using the eHealth Exchange. Sentara hospitals, physician practices and outpatient facilities in Hampton Roads and northern Virginia that use the Epic EHR platform are among the early adopters of a nationwide effort to improve care for active duty personnel, dependents and retirees.

"Hampton Roads and northern Virginia have one of the largest communities of active duty and retired personnel in America," said Bert Reese, senior vice president and chief information officer for Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare. "It’s a mobile population and, for the first time, we can offer a continuous lifetime record that begins at birth and moves with the service member through military, VA and commercial care."

How it works: When military families and retirees receive care at a Sentara facility, doctors, nurses and other providers are now able to review information from both DoD and VA records. If patients return to the VA and DoD, or receive care from another civilian provider, those providers can see health records from Sentara.

Why it matters: Electronic health records offer a wide range of patient benefits; immediate access to digital images and patient histories, fewer medication errors and less duplication of tests and treatments to name a few. However, the mobility of patients today, especially those in the military, demanded creation of a method to share data across multiple platforms so providers anywhere can access timely, correct patient information.

Sentara is also sharing patient data with the Social Security Administration. "Processing time for disability claims has been reduced from weeks and months to hours and days for many patients," said Tom Wilson, director of information technology for Sentara. "It’s been a game changer."

Sentara facilities on Epic use the company’s Care Everywhere interoperability network, which connects every organization using the Epic EHR nationwide and has the ability to connect EHRs from up to 50 other vendors. Care Everywhere has a built-in connection to the eHealth Exchange that the VA, DoD, SSA, and now, Sentara, use to share information. The existing Care Everywhere connection allowed Sentara to complete the onboarding process required to connect with the DoD in less than two weeks.