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VA to use same electronic health records system as the military

Published: Monday, June 05, 2017 @ 8:55 AM

Moving to end years of studies and patchwork software fixes, the VA Secretary announced on Monday that the Department of Veterans Affairs will start using a commercial platform for electronic health records that is already used by the Pentagon, all to ensure complete and accurate data in the VA health system.

"The records will now be able to follow the veteran when they leave service, meaning faster, better, and far better quality care," said President Donald Trump at the White House.

"This is one of the biggest wins for our veterans in decades," Mr. Trump added.

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The decision ends years of wrangling between the VA and Pentagon.

"I said recently to Congress that I was committed to getting VA out of the software business," said VA Secretary David Shulkin. "And, because of that, we’re making a decision to move towards a commercial off-the-shelf product."

The announcement was greeted with relief in veterans circles, after years of bureaucratic fighting between the military and the VA over electronic health records, and whose system should be used and how - and with different systems, how to design software to make them work together.

"This is something that should have been done years ago," said Dan Caldwell of the Concerned Veterans for America.

"The VA’s electronic health record system is obsolete and is a barrier to making the VHA a better functioning health care system," Caldwell said in a statement.

Congress has long pushed the VA and the Pentagon to agree on a joint system for electronic medical records, as a way to ensure proper medical care.

At various times, the military and VA have agreed to pursue a single electronic health record system, but then decided to move away from it, focusing instead of how to make two different systems compatible with each other.

"For almost two decades the departments have undertaken various efforts to advance interoperability between their respective electronic health record systems," the Government Accountability Office reported in October of 2015.

In 2014, the GAO said the decision of VA and the military to use separate systems "was not justified."

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