DOD, VA making progress on sharing health data

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A report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made progress in their efforts to electronically share patient health information, but more work remains before they can share health data seamlessly.

GAO commended the departments' development of data repositories that eventually will be connected by an interface to let users share all health data. Both repositories are operational, and the departments have begun to populate them with certain health information. The interface has been deployed at seven sites, letting DOD and VA share outpatient pharmacy and drug allergy data.

The departments have addressed a challenge sited by GAO in previous reports--one-way transfer of patient information from DOD to VA for service members who are discharged from active duty.

Future success will depend on a clear and definitive strategy, as well as effective management, according to the report. GAO added that while the departments' work so far is promising, it still is unclear how those individual efforts will be integrated into a comprehensive project for interoperable data sharing.