VA, DoD change health record project

On Feb. 5, the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) announced they are changing their joint effort to create an Integrated Electronic Health Record (iEHR) system by 2017, after spending nearly $1 billion on the project. Instead, "we will focus our immediate efforts on integrating VA and DoD health data as quickly as possible, by focusing on interoperability and using existing solutions," said DoD Secretary Leon Panetta."

The iEHR was previously lauded by VA and DoD as a solution to the ongoing problem of incompatibility between the two departments’ electronic health record systems — VA’s VISTA and DoD’s ALTA.

"We applaud both secretaries for their efforts in trying to develop a truly seamless solution to this problem," said James E. Koutz, national commander of The American Legion. "But our veterans are the real losers in this decision. Without a joint DoD-VA record that is easy to access, veterans have to ask for copies, and those requests often take months to process.

"We understand the financial constraints that both departments are under. "And we’re cautiously optimistic about the new plan and eagerly wait to hear more details."