Defense-VA Medical Records Scanning System Not Ready For Prime Time

Bob Brewin | Nextgov | April 18, 2013

The Defense Department plans to deploy by Dec. 31 a bulk scanning system to turn paper medical records into electronic files for transfer to the Veterans Affairs Department, but the system remains “far from ready for prime time,” knowledgeable sources told Nextgov.

The bulk record scanning project is a “game changer” that will allow VA to quickly obtain the medical information it needs to process disability claims, Allison Hickey, VA undersecretary for benefits, told the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in March. The Pentagon transfers medical treatment records for 300,000 discharged personnel annually, with some containing hundreds of pages. Forty percent of records are still in paper form.

Defense plans to adapt its Healthcare Artifacts and Imaging Solution -- originally developed to store, manage and provide access to medical imagery -- to handle the medical records scanning. Department officials were on track to start scanning records in September, based on December 2012 testimony from James Neighbors, director of the Pentagon’s Defense/VA Collaboration Office, before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.