Fla., DOD collaborate on data exchange

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (FAHCA) and the Defense Department will exchange e-medical records so that doctors treating current and former military personnel will have access to patient data.

The exchange will be developed at the Tampa Bay Regional Health Information Organization, one of several RHIOs in the state. The agreement was announced at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

'We hope to use the successes of this collaboration as a model to form sharing agreements with other states and health care entities in the future,' Dr. Stephen Jones, acting assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs, said in a statement. 'It is an important step forward for health care IT.'

FAHCA, which announced the agreement along with DOD officials, is aiming to establish a statewide health information network. 'This partnership will not only enhance the quality of health care services provided to Florida's active and retired military personnel and their families, it will strengthen Florida's efforts to bring this vital health information technology to Floridians statewide,' said the state agency's chief, Dr. Andrew Agwunobi.

About 700,000 Military Health System beneficiaries live in Florida full and part time, and others visit the state. If they visit a private doctor or hospital in the state, that doctor eventually will be able to obtain records from Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, the Defense Department's e-health records system. Likewise, military doctors and hospitals could learn about treatment their patients obtained in the private sector.

Fernando Senra, a spokesman for the Florida agency, said the funding details for the pilot project in Tampa Bay are still being worked out. He said the costs likely will be shared between the state and DOD. He said he did not know what the schedule would be for implementation.

Defense officials said the agreement implements President Bush's August 2006 executive order, which called on agencies to embrace interoperability standards and share data so that the country can benefit from health information technology.

Nancy Ferris writes for Government Health IT, an 1105 Government Information Group publication.

About the Author

Nancy Ferris is senior editor of Government Health IT.


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