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Kaiser, V.A. to launch electronic medical-data exchange program

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Kaiser Permanente announced Wednesday that they will begin sharing patient information electronically through a medical data exchange program meant to improve VA operations.

The pilot project, announced at Kaiser Permanente’s Otay Mesa Outpatient Medical Center, will give physicians from the two organizations access to secure and timely information about a patient’s health, medications and allergies through the Nationwide Health Information Network.

“Instant access to critical health data can greatly improve not only the care and service for individual patients, but also reduce redundancy and waste in health care, saving precious resources for care delivery,’' stated Dr. John Mattison, assistant medical director and chief medical information officer for Kaiser Permanente Southern California.

More than half of the country’s veterans and active duty service members receive some portion of their health care outside of the VA system, according to Kaiser.

VA beneficiaries and Kaiser Permanente members participating in the pilot project have agreed to share medical information.

When patients taking part in the program visit a doctor, their medical history will be available instantly to help guide treatment, according to Kaiser Permanente. Previously, patients frequently consented to sharing their medical information, but it often took weeks or even months to get documents.

Officials hope to eventually expand the electronic medical exchange program to all veterans and service members.