Overton Brooks VA Medical Center
VLER: Improving Continuity of Care for Veterans
"The Veterans Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) means giving the right data to the right people at the right time,” Jasmin Billmyre, VLER Coordinator, Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, said, “which ultimately means improving Veteran care.”
The idea— every Veteran will have one medical record that is shared electronically among VA and select non-VA providers, a system designed to prevent duplication of effort, miscommunication and other practices that may jeopardize a Veteran’s continuity of care.
The reality— VLER Health allows VA health care providers to share information with Department of Defense and select non-VA health care providers using the VLER Health Exchange, which is dependent on the Veteran as well as the Veteran’s provider. The Veteran must sign a “Request for Authorization to Release Protected Health Information to eHealth Exchange, VA Form 10-0485” in order to share their medical information electronically. For this reason, Billmyre and her colleagues are reaching out to Veterans to build awareness of the program’s benefits.
“More than 75 percent of Veterans seek health care from non-VA providers,” Billmyre said. “This system, designed to allow sharing among multiple providers, will do so in a manner that is safe and secure.”
This program will also help Overton Brooks VA become more patient centered and Veteran focused, providing a continuity of care unmatched in the private sector, an effort that requires extensive work at the medical center level.
“The goal of this comprehensive system is to provide a simple cost effective means of electronically sharing a Veteran’s benefit and health information,” Billmyre said. “Access will be a virtualized single portal where VA and select non-VA health care providers can access and share necessary information to provide informed, superior care and accurate benefits to our Veterans.”
Many Veterans may have lost access to their medical records from military service while others strive to build theirs from scratch after years of treatment. The VLER Health Exchange seeks to prevent other Veterans from having to do the same as information will now follow Veterans from the Department of Defense to the VA and then shared between VA and select non-VA providers.
“I had a Veteran who had to get copy of his medical record from a non-VA provider and he had to pay for it— by the page. In the end, he actually had to pay to receive his own medical record. This system will prevent other Veterans from having to do the same thing,” Billmyre said.
Other benefits of VLER Health Exchange include immediate access to health care information as it is added to the Veteran’s file. It will also increase patient safety especially as it pertains to medication reconciliation and documentation of new allergies, among other issues.
This also means that medical records will no longer have to be faxed or hand carried as these records will already be stored in a shareable database. This will help many Veterans who see health care providers across state lines.
“This means if a Veteran goes on vacation, he or she won’t have to take their medical record with them.” Billmyre said. “If they go to a non-VA provider that is partnered with the VA they will be able to access all of their information electronically.”
Veterans who have questions about VLER or wish to have their medical records added to the VLER Health Exchange can contact Jasmin Billmyre at 318-990-5947. Her office is also located at Room 1 East 91, in the Medical Center’s East Wing on the first floor, not far from the main lobby. Billmyre will work with Veterans until the system is established. The system may even provide an efficient sharing practice that may one day be taken for granted.
“The VA is the only health care system with a nationwide footprint,” Billmyre said, “and one day this capability will be ‘a given,’ expected and seamless.”