Quit Wasting Money on e-Health Records, Congress Tells Defense and VA

mayamaya/Shutterstock.com

Lawmakers want both departments to focus on interoperability.

Worried that the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments might continue to spend years and billions of dollars in a “futile exercise” to develop their own electronic health record systems “and lose sight of the end-goal of an interoperable record,” lawmakers included funding restrictions in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act the House passed Wednesday.

Both the House VA and Defense appropriations committees have defined the goal --interoperability -- as the ability to exchange computable information electronically between the departments based on common data standards. Similar language is included in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama late last month. The omnibus spending bill eliminated language in an earlier version of the 2014 VA appropriations bill that called for development of a single record to serve both departments.

The two departments abandoned efforts to develop a single EHR in February 2013 when the estimated costs of a system reached $28 billion, four years after President Obama called for development of a joint record in April 2009.

“The committees want to be very clear with both departments: An interoperable record between the two departments is the chief end goal for Congress,” said the VA section of the omnibus bill the House approved Wednesday.

“The evolution and/or procurement of new health record systems is an important project for the departments to undertake, but it will end up being a futile exercise if the result is not the development of systems that will be interoperable, defined as the ability to exchange computable information electronically,” the section said. “There is rising concern the departments will spend years and billions of dollars on their own electronic health record systems and lose sight of the end-goal of an interoperable record.”

The VA section of the omnibus bill transfers $251.9 million that VA originally requested for the integrated EHR to support development of an upgraded version of its Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, dubbed VistA Evolution. It provides $32.9 million for the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, which includes benefits information.

The language precludes VA from spending more than 25 percent of the VistA Evolution budget until the department describes to Congress how it will adhere to data standards defined by the Interagency Program Office, or IPO, which  was originally set up to develop the integrated EHR. The lawmakers also want updates on “how testing will be conducted in order to ensure interoperabity between current and future DoD and VA systems.”

The Defense Appropriations Committee said the IPO -- whose director, Barclay Butler, departed last September with little public notice -- now has the responsibility to establish and approve the clinical and technical data standards that “will insure seamless integration of health data between the two departments and private health care providers.”

Last May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel backed development of a new Defense EHR based on commercial software. In September, the Pentagon established the Defense Healthcare Management Systems Modernization, or DHMSM, office to manage development of the new EHR.

DHMSM plans to kick off a procurement for the new Defense EHR in March. The Defense section of the omnibus bill allows DHMSM to spend only 25 percent of its budget until it provides Congress with a budget for the full cost of the new EHR. The omnibus bill does not break out the DHSM EHR budget, but chopped the overall procurement budget for the Defense Health Agency by $204.2 million for the integrated EHR it now considers as “excess.”

The Defense Appropriations Committee echoed the VA Committee, saying it is “imperative” that the Pentagon “does not lose sight of the ultimate goal of interoperability” with the VA EHR.

Get the Nextgov iPhone app to keep up with government technology news.

(Image via mayamaya/Shutterstock.com)

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.