DOD, VA not working well together on digital medical records, GAO says

Departments confronting obstacles in their planning

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments aren't working effectively together to create a joint health architecture, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The departments have conducted pilot projects under the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record development program and have combined digital record systems in a pilot implementation at a jointly operated medical center in Chicago.

However, DOD and VA face barriers in planning for specific goals and time frames for jointly fixing their health IT requirements, GAO said in its report dated Feb. 2.


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For example, DOD’s and VA’s joint strategic plan does not discuss how or when the departments will identify and develop joint health IT solutions, and department officials have not yet determined whether the IT capabilities developed for the James Lovell Federal Health Care Center in Chicago can be implemented at other facilities, GAO said.

Also, the departments haven't defined plans for a transition to a joint system; nor have the DOD and VA established a joint acquisition process.

Overall, the DOD and VA have been limited in their progress on a joint system, the report concluded.

“Because DOD and VA continue to pursue their existing health information sharing efforts without fully establishing the key IT management capabilities described above, they may be missing opportunities to successfully deploy joint solutions to address their common health care business needs,” the report states.

The report states that the departments should:

  • Revise the DOD/VA joint strategic plan to include information discussing the electronic health record system modernization efforts.
  • Further develop their joint health architecture to include their planned future state and a sequencing plan for the transition.
  • Define and implement a process for joint IT investments.

DOD and VA executives generally agreed with the findings and recommendations, the report states.



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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Reader comments

Fri, Feb 4, 2011 Jon B. Atlanta, GA

In 1997, I worked for the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses in DOD. We were trying to integrate DOD and VA health records at that time.I'm extremely disappointed that so little progress has been made in over 13 years!

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