To improve the continuity of patient care for veterans, Sentara and the Veterans Administration will share electronic medical records under the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) project.

Sentara, Veterans Administration to share information

Sentara Healthcare and the Veterans Administration are working together to improve patient care for veterans. The Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) project allows Sentara sites of care in Hampton Roads and northern Virginia, and the VA, to securely share patient information in ‘read only’ mode between the two health systems’ electronic medical records. Individual veterans must opt into the program to allow sharing of information.

"Hampton Roads has one of the largest military retiree populations in the country, and many VA patients receive care from Sentara,” said Bert Reese, senior vice president for Information Systems with Sentara Healthcare. “We can help improve continuity of care by sharing timely and accurate information with the VA.”

Up to 40 percent of care provided at Sentara facilities is for veterans, including emergency care, highly specialized surgeries and treatment of complex conditions. Information is stored on the Sentara eCare® Health Network.

“The VLER project can help us improve the safety and quality of veterans’ medical care,” said Katherine Gianola, MD, a physician with the Department of Veterans Affairs “Having information from private sector providers at our fingertips helps us make better decisions and avoid duplicating tests and procedures.”

VLER is also an important factor in making the Accelerating Access to Care Initiative work. Under the initiative adopted last May, if VA patients cannot be seen within 30 days, or they live more than 40 miles from a VA center, they can seek care in the private sector. Secure sharing of electronic information helps facilitate timely care.

“VLER can also help eliminate the need for veterans to carry paper records and films from one provider to the other,” said Dr. Gianola. “Opting into the program will help us relieve that source of delay and frustration.”

Patient data sharing extending to Department of Defense, Social Security

The VLER project with the Veterans Administration is a first step toward patient data sharing with the Department of Defense and the Social Security Administration.

“Up to 60 percent of DoD’s medical care is through the private sector,” said Bert Reese. “For the same reasons this is good for the VA, secure sharing of patient data between Sentara and Dod will help us to provide better care for active duty personnel and dependents.”

The Sentara eCare® Health Network has also begun sharing secure patient data with the Social Security Administration, to facilitate quicker processing of disability applications.