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Leadership Perspectives on Implementing Health Information Exchange: Qualitative Study in a Tertiary Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dixon BE, Luckhurst C, Haggstrom DA. Leadership Perspectives on Implementing Health Information Exchange: Qualitative Study in a Tertiary Veterans Affairs Medical Center. JMIR medical informatics. 2021 Feb 22; 9(2):e19249.

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BACKGROUND: The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) seeks to achieve interoperability with other organizations, including non-VA community and regional health information exchanges (HIEs). OBJECTIVE: This study aims to understand the perspectives of leaders involved in implementing information exchange between VA and non-VA providers via a community HIE. METHODS: We interviewed operational, clinical, and information technology leaders at one VA facility and its community HIE partner. Respondents discussed their experiences with VA-HIE, including barriers and facilitators to implementation, and the associated impact on health care providers. Transcribed interviews were coded and analyzed using immersion-crystallization methods. RESULTS: VA and community HIE leaders found training to be a key factor when implementing VA-HIE and worked cooperatively to provide several styles and locations of training. During recruitment, a high-touch approach was successfully used to enroll patients and overcome their resistance to opting in. Discussion with leaders revealed the high levels of complexity navigated by VA providers and staff to send and retrieve information. Part of the complexity stemmed from the interconnected web of information systems and human teams necessary to implement VA-HIE information sharing. These interrelationships must be effectively managed to guide organizational decision making. CONCLUSIONS: Organizational leaders perceived information sharing to be of essential value in delivering high-quality, coordinated health care. The VA continues to increase access to outside care through the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act. Along with this increase in non-VA medical care, there is a need for greater information sharing between VA and non-VA health care organizations. Insights by leaders into barriers and facilitators to VA-HIE can be applied by other national and regional networks that seek to achieve interoperability across health care delivery systems.

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