Supporting Veterans with Health IT

Stacie Rivera

If you read the latest news stories or tune into a Congressional hearing, you are likely to hear talk about perceived gaps in health record sharing between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Given the myriad discussions and opinions about whether and how VA and DoD align to support Servicemembers as they move from one health care system to the other, it is no surprise there remains confusion about electronic health data sharing.

Myth or fact? Do VA and DoD have the capability to “ensure that Veterans receive the highest level of coordinated care within VA or from participating providers,” including DoD? You decide.

VA Under Secretary for Health, Dr. David Shulkin has encouraged Veterans Health Administration (VHA) staff to “strive for all Veterans to have safe, high-quality, personalized, and timely care wherever they receive their health services.” Among his five priorities, building a high-performance network is one way we care for our Nation’s Veterans. VA has co-developed the Joint Legacy Viewer (JLV) in partnership with DoD to move us closer to attaining this goal. JLV is a web-based application that enables VA staff to access and view electronic health records from across VA and from DoD and community health partners.

“With JLV there is no need for transitioning Servicemembers to carry with them stacks of medical records,” stated Richard A. Stone, MD, the Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health. “JLV fills the gap and enables VA and DoD staff to interface with one another,” Dr. Stone added. Being able to access accurate patient information, no matter where a Veteran gets treatment, is one way we meet our core responsibilities. With JLV, VA health care and benefits staff have a fast, easy-to-use, and customizable view of VA, DoD, and community health provider data. And JLV is already available at each VHA site of care and Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) benefits office. How is JLV improving care?

Throughout VA, there are nearly 200,000 JLV users, and the numbers climb each week as teams of providers understand that JLV fills the information, access, and care coordination gap. JLV provides a standards-based, integrated, and chronological view of real-time electronic health data from all VA, DoD, and community partner facilities where a patient has received care. This data displays in a web-enabled format that is easily displayed for VA staff. JLV contributes to our priority as a high-performance network provider, now! How does it work? JLV takes a patient’s electronic health information that DoD holds, finds the Veteran in VA’s system, and then maps the data into an integrated view to ensure that VA employees have access to critical decision-making data at the point of care with the touch of a button. Whether a VA employee needs information to discern a ratings decision or coordinate treatment, JLV provides the solution to more easily and safely care for Servicemembers and Veterans. 

What are JLV users saying? “I go to JLV all the time, especially looking for exams or medical reports that the Rating Veteran Service Representatives cannot locate. This has helped immensely,” notes a Veterans Service Representative in Seattle, Washington. “Been using [JLV] for quite some time; Awesome. A great help since we get so many recently discharged and active duty Veterans,” touts a Social Worker from Loma Linda, California. A Physician Assistant from the Hinesville Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Georgia agrees, "I am a real fan of this project.” And they are not alone, “I really appreciate your work, LOVE JLV. It is so much better/quicker, easier to navigate than VistAWeb or Remote Data for transfers from other VAs and an even bigger benefit with new patient with mostly DoD past care,” says a Physician from the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont. A Psychiatrist from the Ottumwa CBOC in Iowa City, Iowa concurs. “…I absolutely love [JLV]; it keeps Vets from leaving out important behavior or treatment history. I also enjoy ONE place to access all past lab, diagnostic, medication records. Thank you. I use this daily.”

JLV offers information at the point of care, and includes far more DoD data than other tools currently available. JLV is VA’s stepping stone toward enhanced interoperability, available now, at every VA site of care.