DoD and VA back down from iEHR development

David Perera | Fierce Government IT | February 6, 2013

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments will forego development of a $4 billion integrated electronic health record system and instead focus on data interoperability, officials from both departments said. In a Feb. 5 joint press conference with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said the two departments will choose a "core set of iEHR capabilities no later than March of 2013" and will agree on a set of standardized healthcare data no later than this December.

"Rather than building a single integrated system from scratch, 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," Panetta said. In a follow-up press conference (.pdf) with other officials from both departments, Roger Baker, the VA chief information officer, said data selected for standardization this year will cover just seven informational domains pertaining to immediate patient needs such as prescriptions or lab results.

Not until 2017 will the two departments standardize all medical information domains--for which there exist "well more than 40," Baker said--such as images and notes. By 2017 "the system that we operate on, the software that we use, will be highly common at that point," Baker also said. Despite officials' repeated use of the word "common," however, it is unclear what that DoD-VA commonality will entail, whether it means DoD and VA EHRs will be based on a common set of software modules...