A Year in Review: VITLAccess Provider Portal

During 2015, VITL has been focused on enrolling providers around the state to VITLAccess, the secure statewide provider portal that allows providers, with patient consent, to securely access a patient's medical information from their other providers across the state. This view of clinical data that is collected in the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE) helps providers better understand a patient’s medical history, and may prevent an unnecessary or repeated test.

Patients need to give written consent for their data to be viewed in VITLAccess by any of their other treating providers. Over 96 percent of the more than 45,000 people who have been offered the opportunity to participate have provided their consent – a rate that is consistent with other health information exchanges across the country.

There are 1,858 health care providers across the 14 hospital service areas in Vermont using VITLAccess to obtain medical information for more than 20,000 patients. The 99 organizations whose providers are using the system represent a wide range of care settings, and demonstrate the importance of sharing information as a patient makes a transition from one care setting to another.

What are the implications of heading down the wrong treatment path based on an incorrect cancer diagnosis? According to Leslie Lockridge, MD who owns Northeast Kingdom Hematology Oncology in Newport, “the best case scenario is that I give the patient the wrong information. The patient has the wrong expectations going forward. Possibly, I consent the patient to the wrong chemotherapy.”

This is exactly what Dr. Leslie Lockridge, an independent oncologist in Newport, VT discovered when he realized he had been provided an incorrect diagnosis on a patient’s referral. By having access to the patient’s pathology report through VITLAccess, Dr. Lockridge quickly discovered the correct diagnosis and began the proper therapy. Timely access to this information proved to be crucial in providing the proper treatment and care for this patient, as well as saving the emotional stress and financial costs of an incorrect treatment.

Providers can access information through VITLAccess even if their organization is not contributing information to the VHIE. This allows providers who often feel that they are left out of the loop to gain access to critical information. For example, cognitive decline in an elderly nursing home resident may proceed at an almost imperceptible rate without reliable sources to confirm the information being provided by the resident. Most often, the reliable source is a family member or a person with the authority to make medical decisions on behalf of the resident.

“While it [VITLAccess] doesn’t cover everything, it provides a lot of information on your residents. It helps you to better understand the person as a whole, not just the main reason why they came to your facility.” Paula Ducharme RN and nursing director at Derby Green Nursing Home.

Paula Ducharme, RN and nursing director at Derby Green Nursing Home recently recounted a situation where there was no family member or decision maker to rely on. In this case, Ducharme turned to VITLAccess, the statewide provider portal to the Vermont Health Information Exchange to be that reliable source. By comparing the information provided by the resident with documented information from their providers, Ducharme was able to confirm that the resident was indeed having cognitive issues. That allowed Ducharme to alert the resident’s physician who then made adjustments to their medications.

Other providers from across the care continuum that are tapping into the VHIE include:

  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) (20 locations)
  • chiropractors
  • member agencies of the VNAs of Vermont
  • designated mental health agencies
  • nursing homes
  • dental facilities
  • naturopathic clinics
  • homeopathic clinics
  • pediatric eye care practices
  • physical therapists

Integrating VITLAccess into a busy provider’s daily routine is not an easy task and one that VITL is working to improve. VITL is currently working on a pilot project with the information technology teams at The University of Vermont Medical Center Hospital and Northeastern Vermont Regional Medical Center, that is expected to be ready to in early 2016. Once in place, providers at these hospitals will be able to record a patient’s consent preference in their own electronic health record (EHR) system – as they are documenting other patient information. These consent indicators will then be sent electronically from the hospital EHR systems to VITL.