Quit Wasting Money On e-Health Records, Congress Tells Defense And VA

Bob Brewin | Nextgov | January 15, 2014

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.