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FEHRM expands joint HIE expanding MHS GENESIS’s reach

Image of Military personnel at desk assisting an Airman with paperwork. Taylor Kobylinski, 92nd Medical Operation Squadron medical administration assistant, assists an Airman with checking in to the Family Health Center at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington in 2019. Data shows that initial operating capability sites, like Fairchild, that document patient care in MHS GENESIS continue to show increased operating capabilities in areas such as referrals processed, patients seen, prescriptions filled, and secure messaging. (Photo by Air Force Airman 1st Class Lawrence Sena, 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB.)

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Earlier this month, the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) program office, along with the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), expanded their joint health information exchange (HIE) network to include the CommonWell Health Alliance.

The addition of CommonWell to the joint HIE—a tool that allows the DOD, VA and USCG to exchange data with community partners—increases access to patient information and enhances care for service members, veterans and their families. This addition to the joint HIE enhances data available via the Joint Longitudinal Viewer, which allows health information to be exchanged between the DOD and the VA.

This expansion adds a nationwide network of more than 15,000 hospitals and clinics to the 46,000 community partners already part of the joint HIE. These community partners include hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, labs, federally-qualified health centers and nursing homes.

“The CommonWell connection means DOD, VA and USCG providers can access even more information about their patients to make the best care decisions,” explained FEHRM Director William Tinston. “The FEHRM remains committed to driving federal capabilities such as the expanded joint HIE to improve health care delivery regardless of where patients get care.”

Participating community health care providers now have a single point of entry to request and access DOD, VA and USCG patient information to support the continuity of care for service members, veterans and their families.

With more information about a patient’s medical history, health care providers can make more informed decisions that can improve patient outcomes.

“In DOD’s new EHR, MHS GENESIS, the joint HIE is available to our providers as soon as they access a patient’s electronic chart,” explained Air Force Col. Thomas Cantilina, MHS GENESIS deputy functional champion. “In DOD’s legacy EHRs, providers are able to access the same joint HIE data using the Joint Longitudinal Viewer.”

For the patient, the HIE is part of DOD and VA health care benefits. DOD and veteran beneficiaries are automatically enrolled. However, the joint HIE also honors patient consent. Those patients who choose to opt out of sharing their health information can do so, and their health information will not be shared through the joint HIE.

Non-active duty patients and beneficiaries may opt out of sharing information related to their health care with non-MHS health care providers by filling out a simple Opt-out Form on the TRICARE website and mailing it to the Defense Health Agency, added Cantilina. “Active duty patients and beneficiaries are required to share this information, as it can be vital in emergency situations.”

The joint HIE and CommonWell connection showcases the FEHRM’s overarching effort to deliver capabilities that enable the DOD, VA and USCG to deploy a single, common federal electronic health record (EHR). By implementing the same EHR, providers in the DOD, VA and USCG can document care from the time a patient enters the military through their veteran care in one single, common health record.

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