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VITL Celebrates 10 Years as a Health Technology Leader

Since 2005 VITL has been realizing the vision of a transformed health care system where health information is secure and readily available when people need it, helping to position Vermont as a national example of high quality, cost effective care. During our 10th year as the operator of the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE), we are reflectting on VITL's accomplishments and future directions.

Today, the VHIE securely manages clinical information from all 14 Vermont hospitals, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, all of Vermont’s 11 Federally Qualified Health Centers, 86 Blueprint for Health primary care locations, 16 other primary and specialty care locations, five member agencies of the VNAs of Vermont, and three commercial laboratories.

This clinical data is then made available to health care providers and organizations in meaningful ways that help to improve the health care outcomes for Vermonters, such as:

  • 147 health care locations receive timely and accurate laboratory results directly into their electronic health record system from the hospitals and commercial labs that generate them, ensuring primary care providers have the latest patient information.
  • The Vermont Department of Health receives electronic immunization reports from 134 health care locations around the state, improving the efficiency and accuracy of the Vermont Immunization Registry.
  • Three Vermont accountable care organizations (networks of providers who join together to reduce the per-patient cost of health care) rely on VITL to collect clinical data to meet their commitment to improve patient outcomes.
  • In support of the Vermont Blueprint for Health, the VHIE collects information for the Blueprint clinical registry, which in turn is used to manage chronic diseases in Vermont.

Real transformation is occurring at the point of care with a new VITL service called VITLAccess. It allows clinicians, with patient consent, to securely access a patient's medical information from their other providers across the state. This longitudinal view of clinical data helps providers better understand a patient’s medical history, and may prevent an unnecessary or repeated test. Mental health providers, physical therapists and chiropractors now have access to timely and accurate medical data that may help them provide better care.

VITLAccess has more than 1500 users and we are adding around 45 new users per week to this system. Clinicians have accessed information for over 15,000 patients using VITLAccess. Patient support for this system is strong as well, with 96 percent of the more than 27,000 who have been asked saying yes to allowing clinicians to view their information.

By adhering to industry best practices, VITL has created a secure and reliable network that exceeds HIPAA security standards. An ever evolving health care system demands that the VHIE be resilient, adaptable and flexible. VITL continues to connect more sources of clinical data such as care summaries from home health agencies. VITL is working closely with the accountable care organizations to deliver an event notification system that will alert members of a care team when a patient has been admitted, discharged, or transferred from a hospital.

Data collected in the VHIE must be complete, accurate, and consistent to be useful. VITL is engaged in several projects that will help improve the data as it is collected from source systems. Data management systems are being put in place to provide feedback to sending organizations that pinpoint issues related to the quality of the data that is received. These data management systems will also allow VITL to provide data sets that will be the basis for data analytics.

As John Halamka noted in a recent article we need to focus on the trajectory of health IT, and not get overly fixated on how many or what type of interfaces still need to be built. In the 10 years since its inception, VITL has built a secure, flexible and adaptable exchange that provides the foundation for continued growth. In the future, regional and national connections to other HIEs will significantly increase the data available to providers, and new services will provide fresh insights from information in the exchange. All of this leads to more patient centered care. We are on the right trajectory and realize that much more remains to be done to truly realize the vision set forth by VITL. We hope you’ll join us on the journey!