Vets Call for VA EHR Optimization, Interoperability Advances

Sara Heath | EHR Intelligence | September 15, 2016

In a recent hearing, veterans groups and the Department of Veterans Affairs provided feedback on the Commission on Care report, agreeing that EHR optimization and improved interoperability will help the agency.

The Department of Veterans Affairs needs an overhaul of its Veterans Information Systems and Technology Architecture (Vista) EHR — either in the form of EHR optimization or a commercial EHR replacement — to improve care quality for American veterans, several veterans groups have claimed. In a September 14 hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, these veterans groups — The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Vietnam Veterans of America —were alongside VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald to provide feedback to the Commission on Care’s recent report.

Representatives from the Commission on Care were also present at the hearing, providing testimony and summaries of the report’s recommendations. Among the discussion points was the subject of the VistA EHR. “In the Commission report we are saying that VA should get a commercial off the shelf product that does an amazing range of things, to include electronic health records, scheduling, business applications to effect the payment of non-VA providers and coordinating data among the different VA administrations,” said Thomas E. Harvey, Esq., of the Commission on Care.

Purchasing a commercial EHR may alleviate some of the VA’s issues in developing a robust health IT system, Harvey suggested. Few hearing witnesses disagreed that VA’s health IT infrastructure and EHR system need a significant overhaul. However, some had stronger feelings than others regarding how the VA should approach EHR overhaul. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, for example, agreed with the entirety of the Commission’s suggestion, advocating for an off-the-shelf EHR option...