3 Things to Know About the VA’s New Electronic Health Record

VA's Electronic Health Record

The VA’s New Electronic Health Record: What You Need to Know

On October 24th, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) implemented its new electronic health record (EHR) system at selected sites in the Pacific Northwest. The system is designed to improve how physicians store and manage patient information concerning visits, test results, prescriptions, and other crucial information. If it changes for our care providers, rest assured that it will change the way we access our health data online as well.

EHR Launch Sites

Currently, the VA launched the new system at:

  • Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Spokane, Washington
  • Community clinics in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
  • Community clinics in Sandpoint, Idaho
  • Libby, Montana
  • Wenatchee, Washington.

The patients at these clinics will be the first in the nation to access the new EHR via the My VA Health portal. This new portal is designed as a complement to the VA’s current portal, My HealtheVet, and will allow Veterans to manage their appointments, prescription refills, medical records, and communications with their providers.

The implementation of the new EHR system is expected to happen over a ten year period ending in 2028, so most veterans will not see immediate changes in how they go about managing their healthcare resources. As the new EHR system is implemented there are three things veterans should be aware of.

How will the VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization (EMHR) program impact me?

The VA’s EMHR is a large-scale effort to synchronize the health information from the VA, the Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Coast Guard, and numerous community care providers into a single, modernized management system.

This new system will replace the current electronic health record, known as the Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA). The new system developed by Cerner Corp, which is a third-party information technology company specializing in the integration of healthcare and IT.

The primary goal of this new EHR system is to create a “paperless transition from receiving care as a service member through DoD to receiving care as a veteran through VA.”

When will veterans start using My VA Health?

Once your local VA medical center or clinic transitions to the new EHR, you will begin using the new system, which will be accessible through VA.gov or My HealtheVet. Until that time, you will continue using the older system.

Once the VA launches the My VA Health website, veterans will be able to use their current credentials to sign in. This ensures that veterans who have received care at multiple facilities will have access to all of their records.

Ideally, the VA would like to make their website, VA.gov, the single place where veterans go for their health needs. The VA plans to provide resources to walk veterans through these changes as the new EHRM system expands to their respective facilities.

How will veterans at the initial sites access the patient portal?

Veterans who access their medical care through the above named launch sites in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, will log into either the My HealtheVet or the VA.gov websites with one of the following methods:

  • Premium DS Logon account
  • Premium My HealtheVet account
  • Verifiedme account

Once logged in, veterans will be directed to My VA Health regarding the care at their clinics. (If you have a basic or advanced My HealtheVet account, use this guide to upgrade to a premium account.)

For more information about how to use My VA Health, call 800-962-1024 anytime.

(Image courtesy of Stan Valynkin via 123rf.com)

 

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About the author

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Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.