Shulkin: Health IT will reduce veteran suicide

An interoperable EHR system will enable the Department of Veterans Affairs to better coordinate patient care, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, said during a White House press briefing June 5.

"My top clinical priority is to reduce veteran suicide," Dr. Shulkin said. "One of the areas that we've identified is a gap in the transition — when you leave the military and all of a sudden you no longer have that structure that you were used to, and what happens to you before you get enrolled into either VA healthcare or community healthcare. That no longer is going to happen."

To ensure a "seamless" exchange of patient information between healthcare providers, Dr. Shulkin said the VA will acquire the same Cerner EHR being deployed by the Department of Defense, MHS Genesis. Through the use of MHS Genesis, all VA and DOD patient data will reside in the same system, which will allow a veteran's medical records to follow him or her throughout their healthcare journey.

Dr. Shulkin stressed the VA will create an integrated EHR system, embedding capabilities from other vendors into the MHS Genesis platform.

"VA has unique needs that are different than the Department of Defense's," he explained. "VA — while it's adopting an identical EHR to DOD — needs additional capabilities to maximize interoperability with our community providers."

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