DOD brainstorms new digital health record system

Discussion on acquisition, change management, data migration and other aspects of the new system is expected next year

The Defense Department is preparing for the next-generation Electronic Health Record Way Ahead  project with a study of alternatives to be discussed this month, an official said today.

A decision on how to proceed with acquisition, change management, data migration and other aspects of the new system is expected next year, Navy Capt. Michael Weiner, director of the EHRWA planning office for the Military Health System, said at the FedScoop’s FedTalks 2010 conference today.

The Defense Department deployed its digital medical system in 2000; upgrades to a new platform, known as AHLTA, completed in 2006. DOD began planning for EHRWA in 2009 -- as the White House and Congress started economic stimulus law funding to encourage digital medical system adoption nationwide.

“We want to change to a new electronic health record system,” Weiner said. “We hope to bring the nation with us and share the lessons learned.”

Related story:

DOD wants to scrap AHLTA after improvement efforts disappoint

The new system will handle about 70 terabytes of data for about 10 million service members and their families in multiple care settings, along with 77,000 clinical care givers. The system is likely to be a hybrid of military-owned infrastructure and commercial services, he said.

An initial meeting will be held on Oct. 29 to examine alternatives for the project, and acquisition, engineering, change management and clinical services.

The new system is likely to incorporate wireless devices, voice recognition to facilitate physician input into the system and a simple training regime.

“It should not take a neurosurgeon a week of training to operate an electronic health record system, when a six-year-old can get to the top level of [a computer game] in six hours,” Weiner said. He said the military is consulting with game engineers to make the training more intuitive.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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