Over the past decade, VA and Department of Defense have spent around $1 billion to plan for an integrated digital medical records system. In 2009, President Obama promised to implement the plan and achieve the goal of a common system. The idea is to alleviate the burden of carrying medical records from doctor to doctor, troop medical center to troop medical center, and from the service to VA. VA would have immediate access to medical records created while a veteran was serving.
It could tremendously help veterans whose claims for compensation are denied because a medical record from the military is missing. VA frequently denies compensation for this reason.
According to Rep. Phil Roe, Republican from Tennessee, “Everybody seems to be protecting their own turf. That might work well for them, but it’s not working well for troops and veterans.” He blames the Pentagon and says the VA has done its job by putting a lot of effort and money into updating technology.
VISTA (Veterans Health Information Technology Architecture)
In 2013, VA released its source code for VISTA (Veterans Health Information Technology Architecture) to private companies. Those companies will bid on the government contracts to update the DoD’s health information system. The concept is that these private contractors will use the VA VISTA source code information to make the updated DoD system compatible with VA’s system. So, government contractors may be able to achieve what VA and DoD were unable to achieve after $1 billion and a decade of effort.
It’s a creative solution. Even if the plan works, there will not be a common system in place until 2019 at the earliest. That delay will subvert the plan, which concerns Rep. Roe. His worry is that ten years from now VA and DoD will be no closer to achieving the goal. The irony is that everyone agrees a common system would help veterans and service members.