Health records interoperability between DOD and VA falls further behind

DOD-VA health records interoperability falls further behind

In order to better serve the 16 million veterans and active duty service members and beneficiaries in Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the two separate electronic health record systems must communicate and share data. But a recent evaluation of these efforts by the Government Accountability Office found that DOD and VA failed to meet initial deadlines from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in 2014.

Both agencies have been focusing on both near- and long-term projects like standardizing health data and making data viewable, integrated and available by both departments’ clinicians. But they did not certify that all health care data complied with national standards or that all the data in the systems were computable in real time, GAO found. Both agencies have pushed this deadline to later this year.  

According to GAO, current system modernization plans trail beyond December 2016, which was the original deadline established in the NDAA for implementation of new, interoperable electronic health record software for clinicians.

DOD awarded a massive contract this summer for an interoperable system, and the VA has plans in place for modernizing its existing health records system, but both agencies anticipate that full deployment of these systems will take until at least 2018.

The Interagency Program Office, in charge of monitoring progress, has taken steps to develop process metrics related to the data standardization and exchange of health information. However, the office has not yet specified outcome-oriented metrics and goals that will help it measure the impact that interoperability systems have on improving health care services for patients.

GAO recommended establishing a timeframe for identifying outcome-oriented metrics,  ensuring defined goals provide a basis for assessing and reporting on the status of interoperability and updating IPO guidance to reflect the metrics and goals identified.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.


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