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Visiting Nurses Association Adopts VITLAccess Provider Portal

The Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (VNA) is the latest home health agency in Vermont using VITLAccess, the secure provider portal to the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE). VITLAccess gives their clinicians the capability to view accurate and up-to-date patient information from contributing hospitals and other provider organizations across the state. Patient data contributed to the VHIE – the statewide health data network – are collected and indexed using a statewide patient identifier and made available through VITLAccess to other providers who care for that patient. According to a recent article in The Washington Post, a patient’s transition from the hospital to a home health agency, nursing home, or other rehabilitative settings is one of the most dangerous junctures in medical care. Direct access to patient information from other providers can help to minimize communication errors and reduce the risk for medical errors.

Recently, at two separate training sessions, 26 clinical and administrative staff from all of the VNA’s major programs were trained to use VITLAccess. This included staff who provide home-based services and inpatient hospice services at the Vermont Respite House. The intake and referral staff will use VITLAccess to complete the medical and medication history of new patients. Hospice care providers will use VITLAccess to view detailed specialist notes and test results. In-home programs – Family and Children Services as well as Adult Home Care Services – will develop detailed care plans for their patients using medical histories, allergy lists, problem lists, and test results available through the VHIE.

James Budis, RN, MSN, MPH, vice president of clinical services at the VNA said, “Prior to having VITLAccess, our staff would gather a patient’s history through a variety of means. When information was missing, we had to track it down by making calls and having reports faxed to us. Now, we will be able to access critical information in a timely fashion and provide better outcomes for our patients.”

The training at the VNA of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties is part of a larger project underway at VITL to better integrate home health agencies with other providers using the VHIE. Through a grant awarded to the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL) as part of the Vermont Health Care Innovation Project, VITL has been funded for a two-part project. The first part ensures that all of the non-profit and commercial home health agencies are enrolled and are trained in the use of VITLAccess. Recognizing that patient information generated by home health agencies is important to the rest of the health care system, the second part of the project funds the development of new connections from the home health agencies’ electronic health record systems to the VHIE.

 “We are excited about rolling out VITLAccess to the home health community,” said Judith A. Franz, vice president of client services at VITL. “This represents a major commitment on the part of the home health agencies and DAIL to leverage clinical data to provide improved care and ensures that critical information moves with patients as they make transitions between care settings.”

Ms. Franz and five members of her team conducted the training sessions at the Vermont Respite House and at the VNA offices in Colchester, VT. Training at other home health agencies is being scheduled to occur over the next several weeks. For more information about using VITLAccess at your practice, please contact clientservices@vitl.net.

[1] Rau, Jordan, Hospital discharge: It’s one of the most dangerous periods for patients, The Washington Post, April 29, 2016.