Over the past year, we have witnessed the critical need for improved communication between healthcare providers in the U.S. healthcare system. A lack of access to patient information and communication between providers results in a higher risk of health care decisions being made based on an incomplete picture. Facilitating improved healthcare communication can help prevent providers from missing critical patterns in patients’ medical history and assist in avoiding the over-prescription of controlled substance medications.
Communication and information access gaps are especially problematic for veterans who suffer from chronic conditions. For example, veterans under the care of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) typically have three times as many chronic conditions as their non-veteran counterparts. Since many veterans also face mental health challenges, and many vets and their families receive care outside the VA, there is a real need for comprehensive health records to be available to providers.
The Veterans Affairs State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
To address one aspect of the problem -- giving VA clinicians information about their patients’ controlled substance prescriptions -- VA established the Department of Veterans Affairs State Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) in November 2020. PDMP is a national initiative that provides clinicians with a complete and cohesive controlled substance prescription history, across all care locations, to drive more informed decisions and better outcomes.
Available across 49 national entities, including 46 U.S. states, PDMP arms providers with data in real time, at the point of care, and within the VA’s electronic health record (EHR) workflow. The project fulfills a key milestone for VA, meeting the requirements of the MISSION Act Section 134 and enabling VA to participate in a robust network of State-based prescription drug monitoring programs.
To help deliver the best care possible and prioritize Veterans’ health and wellbeing, we partnered with VA to ensure the successful launch and implementation of PDMP. At Veterans EZ Info Inc. (VetsEZ) and J2 Interactive, we are proud to work with VA to provide the crucial information technology (IT) services that make PDMP possible. For this project, we also worked alongside our partner organizations Appriss Health and Mind Computing to assist in the successful roll out of the initiative, which was fully operational across 46 states within a matter of months.
The Power of Data Interoperability
The fulfillment of PDMP’s mission would not have been possible without the power of interoperability. To support the exchange of critical health information across PDMP, VA leveraged VDIF (Veterans Data Integration and Federation Enterprise Platform), a longitudinal patient record that aggregates and normalizes clinical data across VA’s existing electronic medical record systems.
Based on InterSystems HealthShare®, VDIF connects data from 130 different electronic medical record instances supporting 172 VA medical centers and 1,074 outpatient clinics. With VDIF, PDMP is able to supply providers within Veterans Health Administration (VHA) with an entire history of all patients’ controlled substance prescriptions.
Through innovative projects like PDMP, VA is able to ensure that every provider understands their patient’s unique needs based on their health history. We are proud to stand with VA to support the exchange of patient information to improve health outcomes for veterans and ultimately save lives.
About the Authors
Lou LaRocca has over 30 years’ experience as a software developer, systems architect, and executive with expertise in healthcare technology consulting. He is the president and CEO of J2 Interactive, an award-winning software development and IT consulting firm specializing in customized solutions for health systems, research institutions, health information exchanges, and government agencies. Lou served as the lead developer for several key clients in J2’s early years, and he still loves to write code whenever he gets a chance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science, summa cum laude, from Harvard University. Learn more at www.j2interactive.com.
Nathan Pope is the Vice President of Service Delivery for VetsEZ. He provides leadership and oversight to the VetsEZ Service Delivery portfolio for our VA account and is responsible for contract performance and customer success. Additionally, Mr. Pope supports the strategic growth of VetsEZ by identifying and developing innovative solutions that solve customers needs. Mr. Pope has over 15 years of experience supporting federal and commercial clients, with a focus on health IT, cyber security and consulting services. Mr. Pope is PMP certified and holds a BA in Management. Learn more at www.vetsez.com.