VA EMR to Drive Clinical Research

July 22nd, 2009 | Sources: Amednews


A version of this post originally appeared in the Practice Fusion Blog.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs will allow clinical investigators to use de-identified patient information contained in its EMR as a means to support clinical research initiatives on subjects ranging from MRSA to posttraumatic stress disorder, heart failure and cancer.

VADataMinerMatthew Samore, an epidemiologist from the VA Salt Lake City will be involved with the project. He opined that the so-called Consortium for Healthcare Informatics Research “will not only inform new guidelines but help resolve some conflicts in current guidelines.”

Only VA-associated investigators will get the keys to the highway.

Samore said he hoped the project would show how data-mining techniques could be used in other EMR systems, but worried that since most EMR systems are so poorly interoperable, it would be quite some time before they could match the VA’s capabilities in this area.

Pam Matthews, a senior director of health care information systems at HIMSS concurred with this prediction. “The VA is a closed system. When you apply (what they are doing) to the commercially available products, their data model, their software model may be different,” she said to AMedNews.

Web-based EMRs eliminate these problems, however, by securely storing patient records in a central repository that is continually available to all health professionals involved with the care of a particular patient. 

yourdataoryourlifeThe VA begins its initiative under a dark cloud caused by the heist of a laptop containing data on 26 million vets, a bit of a privacy issue that is avoided with Web-based solutions since the data are housed in secure, off-site locations.


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