Implementation of health information technology in Veterans Health Administration to support transformational change: telehealth and personal health records

Neale R Chumbler, David Haggstrom, Jason J Saleem
Medical Care 2011, 49 Suppl: S36-42
The Institute of Medicine report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, called for significant improvements in 6 elements of healthcare performance: safety, effectiveness, patient centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity. To meet the changing care needs of older veterans, many of whom are trying to manage the complexities of their chronic diseases in their own homes, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has promoted many of the Institute of Medicine elements by implementing health information technology (health IT), such as telehealth and a personal health record (PHR). To that end, approximately 5 years ago, VHA created the Office of Care Coordination and in particular a patient-centered Care Coordination/Home Telehealth (CCHT) program, which uses telehealth technologies (eg, messaging devices) to coordinate care directly from a patient's home to help self-manage their chronic diseases. VHA has also developed a PHR, My HealtheVet, which is a secure web-based portal that provides veterans the capability to access and manage health information. This article discusses the mechanisms by which these forms of health IT have been implemented to improve access to care and improve health. For telehealth, we present the outcomes from some of the published literature. For PHRs, we outline what is known to date and future research directions. The article also examines some structural, policy-related, and organizational barriers to health IT implementation and offers suggestions for future research.

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