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Health IT

DOD, VA still promising health record interoperability

The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs signed a joint statement committing their organizations to develop an integrated electronic health care record. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie pledged to "develop a more efficient overall construct and plan of execution" of their respective implementation of the commercial electronic health care record Cerner. DOD started its implementation, led by integrator Leidos, in late 2017. The effort to reach an initial operating capacity has hit more than a few snags that it is in the process of ironing out.

VA is much closer to the beginning of the process. The agency opted to go with Cerner on a sole-source basis in June 2017, but it took until May 2018 for the $10 billion contract to be signed.

Lawmakers have taken notice that while the plan is for VA and DOD records to work together with 100 percent interoperability, there is no single entity or individual charged with being a single point of accountability for making sure that happened. The Interagency Program Office that led efforts to create a read-only platform for exchanging records called the Joint Legacy Viewer doesn't have the authority, budget or staffing to take on the role of enforcer.

While the joint statement doesn't create that single point of accountability that many in Congress were seeking, it does promise an " accountability mechanism that facilitates coordinated decision making and oversight," and an "organizational structure that supports the delivery of a single, seamlessly integrated EHR that maximizes commercial health record interoperability," with "optimally coordinated" workflows and data dictionaries.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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