DoD, VA accelerate schedule for integrated health record

Jared Serbu | Federal News Radio | February 6, 2013

The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are revamping their plan to integrate the electronic health records used by their two large medical systems, promising the new approach will deliver capabilities sooner and for less money. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki announced the revised program and revised timeline following one of their regular meetings on the topic of better integrating services for veterans and military members. Under the new approach, Panetta said, the integrated electronic health record originally scheduled to reach full capability in 2017 will offer up at least partial functionality by early 2014.

"Rather than building a single integrated system from scratch, we will focus our immediate efforts on integrating VA and DoD health data as quickly as possible, by focusing on interoperability and using existing solutions," he said. "This approach is affordable, it's achievable, and if we refocus our efforts, we believe we can achieve the key goal of a seamless system for health records between VA and DoD on a greatly accelerated schedule."

The new plan still calls for VA and DoD to merge toward a common software platform by 2017, but in the short-term, they'll focus more on standardizing the data their present-day systems use than on standardizing software. Roger Baker, VA's chief information officer, said the departments decided to focus on "quick wins:" By 2014, VA and DoD plan to be able to exchange the most important types of data — seven different "data domains" that are accessed by clinicians in the two departments on a day-to-day basis, including lab results, drug information, allergies and clinical notes.