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VA shifting focus to patient-centered EHRs

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Healthcare is moving to a patient-centered approached and health information technology must follow suit, said Roger Baker, Veterans Affairs Department chief information officer. Baker spoke Oct. 18 at the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Day in Bethesda, Md.

The VA has focused for years on creating electronic health records that deliver great information to clinicians, said Baker.

"But what we haven't done to this point is turn that into a patient-centered electronic health record," he added.

Right now, My HealtheVet is a great tool for clinicians, but it should be optimized as an easy to use patient record, said Baker. The department must also push Blue Button further toward end users, he said.

There are plenty of organizations tapping Blue Button data to provide patients with access to their information. But at the end of the day, all the patient gets is a bundle of ASCII files on his desktop.

"Wouldn't it be nice if they were aggregated together for a single view?" asked Baker.

The aggregated view could cross reference other health records such as pharmaceutical data to see where medications may conflict, he said.

Telehealth is another area of focus for Baker, who said VA will lead the way on innovation in this area. Ideally, a veteran could get two-thirds of their healthcare services by checking in with their doctor from home.

"That's better than driving 4 hours to the VA, I don't care how scenic the route is," he said.

Of course, there are security considerations when patients are collecting health information on personal devices, said Baker.

"When they become medical devices they're going to go through FDA certification, and for a very, very good reason," he said.

At that point, VA will rely on certifications that ensure technology is highly secure and accurate. But Baker's shop will be using that technology--not concerned with creating it, he said.  

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