In May 2009, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) established the VLER initiative which, when full developed, will provide multidirectional sharing and access to health, benefits, and administrative data for Service members, Veterans, and eligible beneficiaries. VLER is not a single system, but an initiative to share data by use of common data interoperability standards, protocols, legal agreements, specifications, and services. VLER is being implemented to enable DoD and VA to securely share data not only with each other, but also with other federal and private sector healthcare and benefits providers. The initiative leverages existing information systems and develops the methods and technology to securely share information among those existing systems. In keeping with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Privacy Act, the VLER initiative complies with rigorous standards of privacy and security to protect patient information.
Functional data sharing needs included in the VLER initiative are categorized as a series of VLER Capability Areas that describe the delivery of specific VLER Health and VLER Benefits capabilities to providers, Service members, and Veterans. VLER Health is part of the eHealth Exchange (formerly known as the Nationwide Health Information Network), which was established by the Department of Health and Human Services. In order to access the eHealth Exchange, VLER Health uses CONNECT, a Federal Health Architecture (FHA) open source software solution that enables health information exchange, both locally and at the national level.
One of the primary purposes of VLER is to streamline medical and administrative recordkeeping. With VLER, Service members and Veterans can share comprehensive administrative and health information with their care providers and benefits administrators. This will eliminate the need to bring paper copies of records from one facility to the next. By providing a common access point for all records, VLER will result in:
- More efficient processing of benefits
- Better informed clinicians, service, and care providers
- Improved continuity and timeliness of care
- Enhanced awareness among all involved parties
- Elimination of gaps in records
To date, the VLER initiative has focused on facilitating the exchange of medical information for the provision of healthcare services among the DoD, VA, and private providers. However, VLER Benefits development efforts are currently underway to define requirements and business cases to support the exchange of information among DoD, VA, Social Security Administration, and other federal and state agencies in order to expedite and streamline these agenciesí benefits adjudication processes.
Personnel and Readiness Information Management’s (P&R IM) Role
P&R IM provides DoD oversight for the VLER Benefits initiative in conjunction with strategic and tactical planning, project management, and communications support. It coordinates with the Military Health System (MHS), Defense Manpower Data Center, VA, DoD/VA Interagency Program Office, and Military Treatment Facilities to implement the VLER Benefits initiative.
For more information on VLER Benefits, please contact the P&R IM VLER Benefits Representative.
For information on VLER Health, please visit MHS at: http://www.TRICARE.mil/VLERHEALTH