VA, DoD to launch joint EHR system

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The VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) announced this week a joint project to offer an integrated healthcare information platform designed to efficiently share patient data between facilities operated by the two organizations.
The departments said that the hope is that progress made through the initiative will be of great value far beyond the military establishment and make its way to the private sector — where a great struggle is going on to achieve integration and secure data sharing.
A joint system will make inpatient medical records instantly accessible to clinicians in both organizations, both departments said. To that end, via this initiative, VA clinicians will have speedy access to their patients’ military health records.

“DoD and VA manage two of the largest health care systems in the world,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. “By working together, we can share medical data sooner and more seamlessly than we could on our separate paths.”

Recently, the two departments have developed a number of initiatives to improve the way they aid men and women transitioning from military to civilian life. Additionally, VA’s electronic health records system, known as VistA, received the “Innovations in American Government Award” from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2006.

The VA and DoD said they were influenced by the work of American Health Information Community and the work of other organizations working towards interoperability. The timing was ripe, leadership from the VA and DoD said, because both organizations are preparing to upgrade their healthcare IT infrastructure anyway.