Category: Alumni, Discovery & Impact

Title: Connecting Data to Improve Health Care Delivery for Veterans

Date Published: September 18, 2020

“Because the McCourt School of Public Policy is located in the nation’s capital and has a stellar reputation in politics and government, it made my decision quite easy.” 

Nadhal Eadeh (EMPL’18)

He currently works as vice president of product marketing and government relations at WellHive, a company that is working closely with the VA to improve health care delivery and information access. Eadeh shared more about his current work, experience at McCourt, and advice for people considering the EMPL program in the Q&A below.

What experiences at McCourt impacted your career path and how you approach your work?

I always had an interest in health care policy––specifically, related to the exchange of data in a fragmented U.S. healthcare system. The VA is a highly regarded public health care institution that has a long history of innovations including the first electronic health record (VistA), the nicotine patch, pacemaker, and groundbreaking research on traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. 

While working at the VA and attending McCourt, the United States was in the midst of a nationwide opioid epidemic, and I wanted to learn about the different treatment methods and data tracking tools the VA deployed to prevent overdoses. It led me to conduct research into VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative, where I learned about alternative treatments for chronic pain such as the use of acupuncture, yoga, and medical cannabis. 

At McCourt, I examined and studied health policy challenges at an even deeper level. Overall, the experience illuminated the challenges of our health care system, which led me to my current role at WellHive where I work to advance interoperability between health care systems.

Can you share more about your current work? At a high level, what challenge/s does your work aim to address?

My work at WellHive aims to bridge gaps in data to help health care providers, inside and outside of the VA network, access veteran patient information for more effective and efficient diagnosis. 

For background, the VA Mission Act, which allows veterans the ability to visit a non-VA community care provider or remain in the VA health care system, creates some technological challenges in the exchange of veterans’ health care information. An important part of our work is helping the VA address those challenges by finding ways to connect electronic health records (EHR) across different health administrator systems. 

Most community care providers use a combination of a Cerner, Epic, or Athena Health as their EHR system. The VA uses a system called VistA. We are collaborating with the VHA Innovation Ecosystem to tackle information transfer challenges by developing a system that allows for patient information to flow between non-VA and VA electronic health care systems. 

For example, if a veteran seeks service at a non-VA hospital, the doctor may not be able to access the veteran’s electronic health care records which can lead to challenges and delays in diagnosis and treatment. It can also create a gap in patient information that may not be relayed back to the VA. The lack of information transfer complicates health care delivery and billing.

Our goal is that doctors, veterans, and insurance companies have the right information when and where they need it. When we solve these problems, we help create a high-performing health care network that our veterans deserve.

What advice would you share with students considering or who recently started the EMPL program?

If you’re looking to broaden your horizons, expand your public policy acumen, and network with decision-makers, the EMPL program is well-suited for you.

Attend lecture series and network with students in other McCourt programs. Spend some time getting to know the faculty members. You never know what doors will open. Keep an open mind. The world is facing unprecedented challenges in climate, health care, food scarcity, and conflicts between countries. Don’t be afraid to take risks and step out of “your lane” to learn about these issues.  

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