VA, Walgreens team to improve care coordination for vets

Agency’s providers are able to directly view medications prescribed to patients and filled at the retail chain’s pharmacies.

The health system for veterans and one of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains are sharing data on prescriptions to improve care for vets.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Walgreens have joined forces to better coordinate patient and pharmaceutical care for veterans enrolled in the nation’s largest integrated healthcare system.

Thanks to the VA-Walgreens data exchange, the agency’s providers are now able to directly view medications prescribed to the VA’s patients by community care providers and filled at pharmacies operated by Walgreens.

Because many veterans receive care from community care providers, it was difficult for the VA to access the records they needed. Previously, the VA’s providers relied on patients to inform them about medications filled at Walgreens by other providers. Now, however, clinicians have at their disposal patients’ entire medication and immunization histories as a result of this partnership with Walgreens.

Walgreens is the VA’s latest community healthcare partner to electronically exchange standards-based medical information with the agency. To date, the VA exchanges this kind of information with more than 170 community healthcare partners, representing 22,431 clinics, 1,288 hospitals, 537 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 261 nursing homes, and 8,649 pharmacies—including more than 8,000 Walgreens pharmacies.

The arrangement with Walgreens “is the first of its kind and it’s a strong collaboration,” said Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the VA. “Partnerships like this will help VA continue to improve the way we care for veterans.”

Also See: VA proposes rule to enhance data sharing with HIE community partners

The Veterans Health Information Exchange—formerly known as the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record—enables the VA, participating community care providers and the agency’s patients to share medical data from their EHRs, which is exchanged via the eHealth Exchange. The program enables the agency and community providers to securely access certain parts of a veterans’ EHR so they don’t have to carry paper medical records from one provider to another.

In particular, the VA is using Direct for provider-to-provider messaging that enables messages containing health information to be shared between the agency’s authorized clinical staff and trusted community care partners.

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