The Department of Veterans Affairs, representing all of its health care facilities nationwide, is a 2016 “Most Wired” health care system.  This is the fourth consecutive year VA has been designated for the honor, which distinguishes VA’s health care system as a leader in clinical integration and adoption of health Information Technology (HIT) to better care for our Nation’s Veterans.

Technology is improving the efficiency of care delivery and creating a new dynamic in patient interactions, according to results of the 18th Annual Health Care’s Most Wired® survey, released this month by the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum.

In redefining the way that they provide care in their communities, Most Wired hospitals such as VA health care facilities use technology to build patient engagement with the Veteran’s lifestyle in mind. For the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its Veteran patients, access to care means electronic access to their care team and the opportunity to use telehealth as an option for care.

Being named a 2016 Most Wired award winner distinguishes VA’s health care system as a leader in the implementation and use of Electronic Health Records (EHR), mobile health technology, and social media to better care for our nation’s Veterans – three criteria identified as significant in today’s health care delivery by Most Wired.

“VA pioneered electronic health records (EHR) and we have not stopped looking for ways to better serve our nation’s Veterans, demonstrating our commitment and investment through the use of health technology that improves quality, provides coordinated care, and engages Veterans in their own care management,” says Under Secretary for Health, David Shulkin, MD.

VA is a leader in telehealth services, an item new to the Most Wired survey. VA Telehealth services are critical to expanding access to VA care in more than 45 clinical areas.

As the nation’s largest health network, VA is constantly looking for ways to serve Veterans in the best, most efficient way possible with the use health IT.  Over the past three years, VA has provided Veteran patients and VA health care teams with even more ways to connect and ensure 21st Century health care through the use of technology – from online sharing health data between VA, DoD, and community health partners to the deployment of a number of VA Apps to better serve patients and providers.

Introducing: The Digital Health Platform in VA

Honoring the lessons of the VA’s EHR legacy, VA teams across the country rely on health care providers, staff, and patients to shape the product. Health IT is not a stand-alone product in VA. VA understands that direct input from providers and patients alike will continue to enhance the way we deliver health care. Industry-leading care calls for much more than collaboration on a single EHR. VA is developing a cutting-edge platform that will transform the way it delivers health care to the Veteran.

Picking up where VistA leaves off, VA’s new Digital Health Platform (DHP) will enable a modern and integrated health care system that incorporates best-in-class technologies and standards. The use of open-sourced standards and cloud-based technologies bring together the best innovations in a framework to deliver an even more robust health IT platform for the nation’s Veterans, while ensuring the best use of public funding.

DHP provides a developer-facing Application Programming Interface (API), unifies VA’s data stores, connects patient to provider in real-time, and implements predictive care to provide a better experience to the Veteran.

“VA is committed to implementing cutting-edge technology that adapts and responds to these evolving demographics and market innovations, and DHP does just that,” said the Honorable Lavern Council, VA’s Chief Information Officer. “Over the next 18 months, we will evaluate costs and assess our options. We look forward to working with our partners at VHA and leveraging industry to develop a comprehensive proof of concept and implementation plan for DHP to take effect at the conclusion of VistA 4.”

DHP is part of VA’s efforts to align with Secretary McDonald’s MyVA Breakthrough Priority of transforming OI&T to improve the Veteran experience, establish a culture of continuous improvement, and enhance strategic partnerships.

“VA is undergoing a historic transformation, guided by Secretary McDonald’s MyVA initiative that calls for us to innovate, collaborate, and succeed for the Veteran” said the Honorable Dr. David Shulkin, VHA Under Secretary for Health. “That is why I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with CIO Council and our team members in OI&T to build the strategic framework for DHP. VA has a history of being a pioneer in the health care IT space, and we stand poised to continue that legacy with VA’s new digital health platform.”

Detailed results of the survey and study can be found in the July issue of H&HN. For a full list of winners, visit

Murielle-BeeneAbout the Author: Murielle Beene is the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at VHA.

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Published on Jul. 22, 2016

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  1. Chester July 30, 2016 at 9:52 am

    The VA is not the only participant in the development of the wired tools. they should give the other agencies that have helped make the wire process as great as it is some credit as well

  2. Peedee Wyre July 29, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    (To Harry Balze:) I enjoy receiving VA news releases and forward articles to my fellow Vietnam Veterans who might still be wary of “going to the VA,” because I have received such phenomenal, proficient and respectful care from my fantastic NorCal VA doctors, nurses, techs and staff since I “went VA” for 100% of my healthcare since 2009 and for Agent Orange-caused lymphoma since 2011.
    Press Releases are how the VA tells The Public what’s going on. It helps to dispel the overblown hysteria so rampant from unknowing naysayers… if there is a problem at a given facility, fix it!! But in my 7+ years, I’ve seen a great system get even better. And yes, if a Veteran is Medicare-eligible and qualifies for VA care and wants VA care, then Medicare is billed for whatever is Medicare eligible and VA covers any difference. I also.believe, from observation, that Secretary McDonald (a Veteran himself) has brought his organizational talent to the VA, much to the benefit of all. I have nothing but good things to say about VA care, including “Thank You” to America and President Obama for improving on Abraham Lincoln’s 150-year-old pledge to “care for him who has borne the battle…”
    A friend drove me to a post-op app’t yesterday at the Martinez (CA) VA. There,are several very large parking lots (with huuuuge solar-panel overhead) and we couldn’t find a parking spot until another left; I said:”this happens every time I’m here–hundreds of times in 7 years– and it proves how popular the, VA really is.” And the parking situation is the same at Sacramento, San a Francisco and Oakland. With a 90%+ satisfaction rating from those of us who receive VA care, press releases like this keep us Veterans (and Jody BackOnTheBlock) and The Public up to date on what’s-what. The negativity and distortions about the VA that I have come to know, from the inside, need to be countered with FACTS.

  3. Raymond E. Vogel July 29, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    The Cookeville facilities are in need of HELP!

  4. Raymond E. Vogel July 29, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    This year I transfered my health care to VA from medicare. The care I am getting from that Alvin C. York center in Murfreesboro and Nashville VA facilities has been great! In some cases it seems FAR different and better than what I was getting through medicare and much simpler to get.
    One suggestion: Medicare allows for preventive care tests and procedures. You should be able to collect there basic fees for doing these tests on ùs vets who also Cary Medicare. That should save VA Some expense.

  5. Harrison Balze July 22, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I would much rather the VA did not spend so many resources telling us about “how great we are.” If they are really that advanced, the patients will soon become aware of that. I fully understand the principal of recognizing individuals in the workplace for outstanding behavior but the VA takes that to extremes nobody else does. We know full well when the employees that provide care to us do a good job just as we know when they don’t. The last thing we need or want is for some informational tech bureaucrat type to force useless spam down to our email address. If it is important stuff, send it but all this self gratuitous back patting is just Crap spelled with a capital C.
    We know really good service when we see it. We don’t need anybody to tell us when they think they are providing good service. If you really want to know what kind of service you are giving at a particular site, why don’t you set up exit interviews on the way out to the parking lot. A simple “thumbs up or thumbs down” will tell you a lot in 5 seconds. If you get a bunch of thumbs down, pull them off to the side and try communicating with them as to what went wrong.

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