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DoD integrated EHR plan, Defense Health Agency changing military care

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is now considering a replacement to its legacy EHR systems with an off-the shelf product that is compliant with at least stage 1 of meaningful use. The department is currently performing market research to assess the products that might suit their needs. They are interested in EHRs that have been evaluated by third-party research firms and have been recognized by users as easy to learn and use.

The DoD and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have been tasked with developing a shared integrated electronic health record system (iEHR), which must be completed by Oct. 1, 2016 as mandated by the National Defense Authorization bill. The DoD is considering Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (Vista) EHR options during their replacement process. Vista is an “automated environment that supports day-to-day operations at local Department of VA healthcare facilities.” Adoption of a Vista EHR system by the DoD would bring the two agencies closer to realizing their iEHR.

This isn’t the first detour in the DoD’s road to a unified EHR. Their $2 billion, 13 year “EHR Way Ahead” project was determined to be insufficient, according to a 2010 report issued by the Government Accountability Office. The system, formally known as the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, was planned to rollout in four blocks. Only one of those blocks was fully deployed, while the second was released in part, and the final two blocks were removed from the project. The project also failed to meet its targeted finalization date in 2007.

Healthcare for military personnel underwent another recent change with the establishment of the Defense Health Agency. The agency plans to streamline care among the military branches and will manage the health plans of the 9.6 million beneficiaries of TRICARE military coverage. An estimated 500 Army, Navy and Air Force workers, predominately IT staff, have already begun working for the new agency which will oversee “the operational work for health information technology, medical logistics, pharmacy operations and facilities planning for the services.”

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