IT Moving Ahead in Virginia

The State of Virginia’s Information Technology Agency (VITA) is responsible for operating the IT infrastructure, handling information security programs, developing public safety and related technology, and procuring IT with 100 plus ready to use VITA contracts. VITA has been working with Northrop Grumman to modernize Virginia’s technology infrastructure.

The state used funding from ARRA to plan for a health information exchange. When the Federal administration ruled that states could utilize a 90 percent administrative match through Medicaid to fund infrastructure and eligibility systems, the Virginia General Assembly in 2011 provided state funding to build the Service Oriented Architecture infrastructure necessary for modernization and interoperability.

The eHHR program was established by the state’s Health and Human Resources Secretariat. The eHHR program oversees Virginia’s health IT and the Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA). Ongoing efforts are to have the technology ready needed to modernize and transform how agencies collect, use, and share vital data. The initial focus is on interoperability but later phases are going to enable broader uses for technology.

Last year over 2.3 million applications for Medicaid and SNAP services were processed. The state had an error rate on Medicaid applications that needed to be addressed. A combination of factors meant that the state needed to begin to rethink the basic task of eligibility determination and enrollment. This resulted in an eligibility modernization contract being awarded and a program-related website set up at http://ehhr.virginia.gov.

The eHHR program is up and running with some projects in process. Phases 1 & 2 of the Customer Portal have already successfully been completed. Work is progressing to provide interoperability between the Virginia Department of Health and the state laboratories. eHHR is moving forward with procurement for the Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) system, and care management systems are being initiated to address VDH Birth, Death, and Immunization.

The eHHR Program is designed to manage the state’s HIE called “ConnectVirginia”. So far, the DIRECT Messaging system is in place and “ConnectVirginia” is continuing to work on several issues that arose during the process to onboard and test the first node with Inova Health System.

VITA’s Shared Services monthly meeting is held so that meeting participants can stay informed and collaboratively work to onboard the state agency node to “ConnectVirginia”. Also, VITA’s Monitoring Subcommittee for the Virginia Rx Drug Abuse Reduction Workgroup is examining opportunities to enable interaction between Virginia’s Prescription Monitoring Program and ConnectVirginia.

As teams address various technology issues, the HIE’s Governing Board is focusing on future governance and sustainability. The sustainability committee continues to meet to identify funding and cost models to ensure HIE’s operations beyond the Federal funding period.

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