As Nextgov's Bob Brewin has reported, the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs will create a common platform for their electronic health records. A plan for implementing the joint venture is due in early May.
Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, said last week that a single EHR would make it easier to transfer patient data and increase the amount of patient information shared between the two departments. As Brewin noted in a blog post last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki agreed to the common platform in a March 17 meeting.
A General Accounting Office report dated Feb. 2 sharply criticized the VA and Defense departments for failing to articulate explicit plans, goals and timeframes for common health IT requirements. GAO said each organization was too narrowly focused on their own EHR modernization, among other issues, to join in planning for their common requirements together.
The departments have separate EHRs. DoD uses the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, commonly known as AHLTA. It is transitioning to the Electronic Health Record Way Ahead system. The VA's system is called VistA, for Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture.
DoD and VA agreed in April 2009 to create something called the Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record to facilitate sharing of medical records between them. Testing is under way in five pilot programs, according an article Tuesday by the American Forces Press Service.
"No two health organizations in the nation share more nonbillable health information than the DoD and the VA," Schoomaker said in testimony before the Military Personnel Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. "The departments continue to standardize this sharing activity under delivering information technology solutions that will significantly improve the sharing of appropriate electronic health information."