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Novant Health streamlines access to veterans’ health records

Novant Health

WINSTON-SALEM — Novant Health announced Friday it has connected its electronic health records to the Department of Veterans Affairs through the federal health information exchange. The connection allows clinicians to share patient information across both systems without paper or faxing, improving the coordination of care for veterans who receive care in multiple locations.

In November 2014, Novant Health became the first healthcare system in North Carolina to join the federal health information exchange, which simplifies patient care coordination by allowing providers across the country secure and instant access to patient records. Currently, Veterans Affairs does not connect directly with any state, public or private health information exchanges and must be accessed through the federal connection. Patients in the VA system must provide authorization for their data to be shared through the federal health information exchange and Novant Health has worked with the VA to obtain consent at the point of patient care to ensure timely access to the records.

On March 14, 2015 Novant Health Rowan Medical Center will implement an electronic health record, allowing them to connect to the federal health information exchange and the VA. Following this implementation, 11 of 14 Novant Health Hospitals and approximately 400 clinics will be live on the electronic health record.

“Joining the rest of the Novant Health system on one electronic health record will prove to be a tremendous benefit to our patients,” said Dari Caldwell, president of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. “Whether they receive care within our system or our neighboring VA hospital, their doctors will have their most up-to-date medical history.”

According to a September 2014 brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, physicians using electronic health records that met Meaningful Use criteria were significantly more likely to report safety improvements associated with electronic health records than physicians that have not transitioned. Three times as many physicians reported that their electronic health record prevented a potential medication error than caused one. They also received preventative care reminders and chronic condition clinical care guidelines and facilitated referrals and physician communication.

“Since implementing our own electronic health record at Novant Health, we have seen positive changes for our patients as we improve coordination between physicians within our system,” said Dave Garrett, Novant Health senior vice president and chief information officer. “Connecting to the federal exchange and the VA will only broaden those successes.”

Through the federal exchange, providers will be able to use the data available to them to quickly find and notify patients who may be at risk for problems related to unsafe drugs or recalled medical devices, identify epidemics nationwide and allow researchers to analyze treatment and outcome data to identify best practices.

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