iEHR Redefined: DOD's Top 3 Tactics In VA Turf War Detente

Lloyd McCoy | Government Health IT | July 21, 2014

While turf wars between the DOD and VA have effectively blunted efforts for a unified electronic health record system, both agencies are at least moving toward improving interoperability. On the DOD side, three initiatives are budgeted for continuing development — some seeing request increases, others flat, per the DOD’s overall budgeting trends.

...In early 2011, the Secretaries of DOD and VA agreed to work cooperatively on developing one common integrated electronic health record (iEHR) system by 2017.  An interagency program office (IPO) formed by the National Defense Authorization act assumed responsibilities for the iEHR. Disputes erupted between VA and DOD, unfortunately, because each had its own domain and ways of doing things, and neither was willing to cede ownership.

Along with costs skyrocketing from an estimated $5 billion to nearly $30 billion, the project was doomed from the start. And so, in February of last year, the Secretaries of both Departments announced that instead of building a single integrated EHR, both DOD and VA will concentrate on integrating VA and DOD health data by focusing on interoperability and using existing technological solutions.  (It’s worth noting that the iEHR still appears in the President’s annual budget request as a program, but it is now focused on improving technical collaboration between the two agencies.)...