by A. John Blair, III, MD 
October 2014

We can improve care for our military service members and our veterans by connecting all the providers who care for them. Efforts are already underway. The Department of Defense Military Health System and the VA system are working on interoperability. But at the same time, we also need to be considering how to build a bridge between the federal and non-federal providers.

We must ensure veterans and active-duty service members are able to receive coordinated medical care as they travel between the federal and private systems. Their information must flow securely to their providers, within and between the two systems.

Direct can help build that bridge.

The change needs to happen now: Patients already are traveling between health care providers in the two sectors. This will accelerate. What's missing is interoperability. Direct can make that happen; it is the tool that can integrate patient information and provider workflow between federal and private practitioners.
 
This will represent a tremendous change from the status quo, but it's achievable. We have the technology. We have Direct.
 
We must meet the government where it is now so there are no barriers to interoperability. MedAllies understands the security concerns of the federal government and we're paying careful attention to Federal Health Architecture (FHA) developments. We know the security requirements on the federal side will exceed those used on the commercial side. Connecting the DoD and the VA requires a higher security bar than what’s generally available today. As FHA determines what's needed, we will support that, in terms of both security and interoperability. We stand ready to participate. We understand what the issues are and we are preparing ourselves to be there when those decisions are made.

We won't be starting from scratch. Congress is already considering legislation that will make it easier for VA enrollees to receive care at civilian facilities. At the same time, DoD is in the midst of an $11 billion procurement of an EHR system that will be interoperable with EHRs at the VA and in the private sector.
 
We all want the same thing, whether we're on the federal or the commercial side, whether we're talking about veterans, service members, physicians or our representatives in Congress. We want all doctors in the federal space to connect with each other and with those in the commercial space. It's that simple, and it's that complex.