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Kate Monica 

The state’s emergency department care coordination program enables collaboration between hospitals via a statewide HIE.

Virginia recently launched its emergency department care coordination (EDCC) program to connect all emergency departments in the Commonwealth for streamlined communication and collaboration across healthcare facilities.

The program utilizes a connection to Virginia’s statewide health information exchange (HIE) —ConnectVirginia — to enable health data exchange between healthcare providers, health plans, and care teams for patients receiving emergency services.

Additionally, the program integrates directly into the state’s prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and advance healthcare directive registry.

Enabling a connection to the state’s PDMP will equip care teams with patients’ comprehensive medication histories to promote safer prescribing practices in Virginia’s emergency departments and reduce opioid-related deaths.

“Virginia continues to be at the forefront of health care innovation, and the ED Care Coordination Program marks an important step forward in making sure Virginians in every part of the Commonwealth have access to the highest quality of care,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

“With this secure technology, we can provide emergency medical personnel with access to a patient’s critical medical information in a timely way, which will increase effective and efficient care, avoid duplicative tests, reduce unnecessary costs, and improve health outcomes,” Northam continued.

The Virginia General Assembly first established the EDCC program in 2017 within the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The program was made possible through collabroations between health systems, health plans, physicians, VDH, the Department of Medical Assistance Services, and the Department of Health Professions.

“The ED Care Coordination Program will help ensure appropriate care in the appropriate setting for patients, while also ensuring that their personal health information is secure,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD. 

The program is headed by VDH. Health IT services provider Collective Medical assists in facilitating health data exchange for ConnectVirginia to enable a connection between emergency departments.

“This program can offer peace of mind to patients and health care providers alike. I applaud the countless individuals who have worked collaboratively to make this program a reality, which helps safeguard the health and well-being of all people in Virginia and moves the state closer to becoming the healthiest state in the nation,” Oliver stated.

Looking ahead, the State Employee Health Plan and non-ERISA commercial and Medicare health plans operating within the Commonwealth intend to join the EDCC program by June 30, 2019.

The EDCC program will also expand to include other providers including primary care physicians, case managers, nursing homes, community service boards, private behavioral health providers, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs).

These entities will have the opportunity to receive alerts and contribute patient health information to the exchange for improved care coordination.

States across the country are increasingly making efforts to improve health data access and exchange for emergency services providers for improved care coordination.

In May, the North Dakota Department of Health’s (NDHS) Division of Emergency Medical Systems launched an initiative to allow emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to engage in EHR use during patient transport.

The state health department partnered with EMS, fire department, and hospital health IT software company ESO to develop a clinical data repository designed to collect and analyze EMS patient care reports.

Enabling providers to collect and analyze patient health data helps to improve patient injury prevention efforts, performance improvement, and patient health outcomes.

 “Smart data and insightful analytics can be a real game changer for organizations across the healthcare spectrum when it comes to patient transport and treatment,” said ESO Healthcare Vice President Allen Johnson.

North Dakota joins California, Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma, New York, and other states that have taken steps to improve EHR use and health data access for emergency services organizations.