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Integrated DOD, VA patient health record system in sight

The administration's vision of a seamless, integrated electronic health record system for the nation’s service members and veterans is growing closer to becoming a reality.

The administration's vision of a seamless, integrated electronic health record system for the nation’s service members and veterans is growing closer to becoming a reality, Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs officials announced on May 21.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, addressing a press conference at the nation's first fully integrated DOD-VA medical facility in Chicago, said the two agencies are approaching a milestone in combining their now separate electronic health records as part of the effort to more closely integrate the two health care systems.

Panetta said the joint records system will debut at test sites in San Antonio and Hampton Roads, Va., in 2014.

The announcement came at the Capt. James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, which incorporates facilities, services and resources from the North Chicago VA Medical Center and the Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes. It's the first integrated DOD-VA medical facility created under a joint operating concept linking the two departments.

“In response to a challenge issued by [President Obama] three years ago, DOD and VA have been working steadily to increase the amount of health information that's shared between our two departments,” Panetta said.  President Obama in 2009 said he envisioned an initiative called the virtual lifetime electronic record, which would form the basis of electronic health data sharing.

Panetta noted that the DOD/VA integrated electronic health records, or iEHRs, would become the world's largest electronic health record system by 2017.

Shinseki said the iEHR system – which will be accessible by any DOD and VA medical facility and follow patients throughout their lifetimes – is the “key to seamlessness, critical to enhancing quality of health care, and essential to controlling costs.”

 

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