VA contractor digitizes VA benefits backlog now eyes joint EHR

Jennifer Bresnick | EHR Intelligence | July 10, 2013

The Department of Veterans Affairs [VA] has a lot on its plate.  From its rocky path towards interoperability with the Department of Defense to a disability benefits claims queue stretching into the hundreds of thousands, there is a great deal of work to be done in order to provide service men and women with quality healthcare. 

To aid the process, the VA hires contractors in the private sector, one of which is CACI International, which has been focusing on digitizing the millions and millions of pages of paper health records collected by the VA over the last few decades.  Rick Dansey, Executive Vice President of the Federal Civilian Services Group, sat down with EHRintelligence to discuss the VA’s efforts towards clearing the benefits backlog and integrating their health data with the DoD.

While the two departments have abandoned plans for a single, jointly developed EHR, Dansey doesn’t believe that is much of a problem.  “From my vantage point, it is about the data,” he said.  “No matter what happens, or who ends up using what system, I don’t think that’s a big problem.  In a sense, people get caught up on the system, and it really is about the data.  You don’t have to access a single record: all you have to do is pull the right data for the right reasons, and you’ve got what you need.”

“Interoperability is in almost every sentence I read when it comes to what the DoD wants,” Dansey continued.  “That’s the focus. And the VA and DoD have common goals.  They might have different opinions about how to go about it, but everyone agrees that the data has to be in a standard format so that you can get what you need no matter what system you’re using.”