At a joint hearing of the House Armed Services and Veterans Affairs committees last week, House lawmakers questioned officials from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs about the slow progress of their efforts to integrate their electronic health record systems, the Montgomery Advertiser reports (Philpott, Montgomery Advertiser, 7/28).
President Obama announced the joint EHR system project in 2009. The integrated system will allow every service member to maintain a single EHR throughout his or her career and lifetime.
However, DOD and VA have said they do not expect to fully implement the joint EHR system until 2017, according to NextGov.
Comments on Timeline, Progress
At the hearing, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) told Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that the five-year timeline is "unacceptable to me ... fix it."
Panetta testified that he was frustrated by a lack of cooperation between the two departments, adding that the cultures of the agencies "resist change" and "coordination" despite their close working relationship (Brewin, NextGov, 7/26).
Shinseki said that "leadership," rather than "technology," is slowing progress on the EHR integration project (Montgomery Advertiser, 7/28).
Comments on Implementation of Joint EHR System
Shinseki said that despite delays, he and Panetta have a close working relationship. He said they meet every quarter and have a strong commitment to successfully implement the joint EHR system (NextGov, 7/26).
He added that the departments have made "groundbreaking" progress by agreeing on what the joint EHR system will look like. He said, "The way forward for us is a single, joint, common, integrated" EHR system that will have "an open architecture, not proprietary in design." He added, "That is a significant change from previous discussions" (Montgomery Advertiser, 7/28).