Thursday, November 11, 2010

What is VLER?

In honor of Veterans day being celebrated here in the US, I thought I'd describe an important US healthcare project that affects Veterans and members of the Military.

The Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) is a project that intends to ensure that health information used by the US Department of Defense and the Veteran's Administration is seamlessly available across agencies.  A recent report indicates that this project will available nationwide by 2012 based on information in the current VA Strategic plan (pdf).

The key point of VLER is seamless sharing of health information between the DOD and VA.  The goal is to create an integrated, personal, lifelong electronic health record.  The record is supposed to contain information from enlistment (including prior data) through discharge and beyond until the last benefit is realized.

VLER will work through the Nationwide Health Information Network (NWHIN).  The first part of this program will be executed through the VLER Health Communities projects.

Phase 1a of the project tested exchange via NWHIN between Kaiser and the VA. Phase 1b tests exchange between three Virginia based healthcare providers, the DOD and VA in Hampton Rhodes. Other regions include Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Pudget Sound region of Washington.

In addition to exchange between DOD, VA and Private healthcare providers, VLER will also facilitate exchange between other federal agencies.   I believe that includes the Social Security Admihnistration for disability determination, but haven't been able to track that down.

So, what kinds of information will be exchanged?  If you have been following the Exchange program, you can guess that the first projects included some support for the HITSP C32.  I know they also very much want to exchange lab results, and they want other documents as well.  You can certainly expect these projects to recieve some priority in the ONC S&I Framework.

Apparently there were some vocabulary based challenges using C32, but because I'm not on the project, and those projects tend to be black holes for information, I don't know the details.  I can certainly guess that it is related to some of the topics I mentioned in in this post.  That's not really a C32 limitation, but in fact, was introduced because C32 Version 2.5 RELAXED contraints in order to be consistent with Meaningful Use Regulations.  I have to laugh when I see complaints like that because otherwise I'd be crying.  If the Feds wanted to eliminate optionality, they had the opportunity to do it by following the recommendations of the HIT Standards Committee. 

I expect you'll be hearing more about #VLER on this blog in the future, and on the tweet-stream

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