Agencies map the road to sharing patient information

Agencies map the road to sharing patient information

BY PREETI VASISHTHA | GCN STAFF

The Indian Health Service and the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are working on a transition plan to establish which of the three agencies will lead the Government Computer-Based Patient Record project.

'The lead will be responsible for carrying out requirements for improved planning and coordination,' said Gary Christopherson, chief information officer for VA's Veterans Health Administration.

The three agencies have been working jointly for several years on the project, which aims to create a cradle-to-grave approach for handling military health records.

In a recent report, the General Accounting Office concluded that the three agencies have made little progress on the project to share patient health data.

Poor planning and accountability, slipped schedules and cost estimate changes have raised doubts about the GCPR project's likely benefits, GAO said in the report, Computer-Based Patient Records: Better Planning and Oversight by VA, DOD and IHS Would Enhance Health Data Sharing. GAO released the report last month.

Work on the project began in 1998. Originally, the trio of agencies had planned for GCPR's worldwide deployment by last October. Now, GAO said, the agencies have pushed back the deployment indefinitely.


Spiraling price tag

Cost estimates have also proven unreliable, the congressional auditor said. For instance, in September 1999, the price tag for GCPR was $270 million over 10 years, but by August of last year, the figure had jumped to $360 million.

Christopherson said substantial progress has been made since the project began.

Reaching consensus on the overall technical architecture, information modeling and security components was the first major achievement, he said. Last year, the agencies settled on a working prototype for GCPR's framework.

Currently, VA officials are assessing its objectives for completing an early version of GCPR that makes real-time DOD health care data available to VA, he said.

VA will complete integration testing by Sept. 30 and initially implement the application by Oct. 31, he said. Christopherson said deployment would continue throughout next year.

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