DOD, VA consider more integration for EHR systems, VA official says

Agencies hold "productive" talks about systems modernization

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are considering creating a joint electronic health record (EHR) system as one of many options, a top VA official said today.

A single integrated system “is an option that both agencies would consider, but it is not the only option,” said Roger Baker, VA’s assistant secretary for information and technology, in a conference call with reporters.

“The most important thing is to both look at the paths forward and to do it in the best way,” Baker said. The departments have different needs, populations and locations to consider, he added.

Bake said DOD and VA have been holding "a series of productive discussions" on how to proceed on their modernization goals for DOD's AHLTA and VA's VistA EHR systems. DOD officials recently said they are planning on developing a new record system, to be known as the EHR Way Ahead, with a decision due next year.


Related stories:

DOD brainstorms new digital health record system

MUMPS to be retained for VA VistA system — for now


VA and DOD are also collaborating on several projects that involve partial integration of their EHR systems.

In Chicago, the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center opened Oct. 1 and is preparing to begin operations with partially integrated IT systems from VA and the Navy. “We will go live with the IT systems on Nov. 30,” Baker said.

AHLTA and VistA will coexist at the new medical center, while software has been created with joint interfaces for VA and Navy systems.

For example, a joint patient registration system links to AHLTA and VistA, Baker said, and doctors can log into both systems at the same time.

Additional software will allow lab, radiology, pharmacy and consultation orders to be filed in both systems. However, the pharmacy and consultation pieces are more complex and probably will not be ready by Nov. 30, Baker said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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