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DOD, VA Criticized by Senator on Integrated EHR Initiative

June 14, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has recently critiqued the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for their inability to create a joint, integrated electronic health record (EHR) system.

Murray outlined her frustrations at senate budget committee hearing for the fiscal year 2014 budget request for the DOD. Speaking to Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, she spoke harshly at the two agencies' failure to create an integrated system that would allow for communication between VA and DoD’s medical records.  

“Clearly the best option would have been a single joint electronic health record system that is open-source.  This would have been the most effective solution and would have revolutionized the market, but the Department has backed away from that goal,” Murray said during the committee meeting.

A few months ago, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki announced they would forgo plans to build a new health records system to be used jointly by the departments and instead pursue less expensive technologies to make their individual systems more interoperable. Recently the DOD announced it would pursue a commercial EHR instead of adopting the VA’s VistA EHR system.

Murray said that everyone on the committee was concerned that the DOD spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars – and thousands of staff hours over the last few years –trying to create an integrated IT platform, and came away with nothing.  “The lack of seamless integration between our two largest Departments is one of the most critical areas to address in order to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, and ensure our service members and their families get the care they need and deserve,”  she added.



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