Senate calls for details on DOD-VA health record work

By Mary Mosquera
10:06 AM

The Senate Appropriations Committee wants more details about how the Defense Department plans to modernize its electronic health record system, which DOD is upgrading in coordination with the Veterans Affairs Department.

The committee is monitoring progress the two departments are making improving their electronic health record systems, but lacks details on how that will be accomplished, according to a report accompanying the 2011 Defense appropriations bill. The committee approved the spending bill last week.

The DOD and the VA share many of the same requirements for their respective electronic record systems, which they have now begun to interconnect as part of the Obama administration's virtual lifetime electronic record or VLER project.

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The report, which does not mention VLER, said the Joint Executive Council, the VA-DOD office that oversees the two EHR upgrades, has not provided enough detail in its strategic plan about EHR coordination and how the departments intend to meet their common requirements.

"In the absence of a strategic plan that discusses and guides their efforts, the departments are pursuing separate and distinct modernizations," which may result in more costly, independent electronic health record system networks, according to the report published Sept. 20.

The committee directed the DOD, in coordination with the VA, to report within 90 days of the Defense bill's enactment a revised joint plan that provides specific details about the EHR system modernization efforts and how they will address areas in which the departments have identified common requirements.

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