Report: VA needs single interoperable IT system, VHA CIO

Veterans Affairs

A new report on transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs calls for a comprehensive electronic healthcare information platform that is interoperable with other systems and providers.

The Commission on Care’s final report listed IT systems among the VA’s many problems, noting that “antiquated” key systems do not adequately support the needs of 21st century healthcare, according to an announcement.

Before a Senate committee last month, VA officials indicated they would turn to the private sector to replace the agency's aging homegrown EHR system, VistA.

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VA Under Secretary for Health David Shulkin said a commercial product must include the “ability to integrate with community providers and all of the unique needs of veterans.”

The report urges the Veterans Health Administration to procure an off-the-shelf IT solution to support the clinical, operational and financial systems required for the transformation. In addition to interoperability, it would provide the data, analytic power and user interfaces to monitor the effectiveness of care and lead to systematic improvements.

That system would support a variety of functions including scheduling, billing, claims, payment, mobile applications, telehealth, and include tools to help veterans better manage their health.

The report's authors also call for strong IT leadership, urging the creation of a VHA CIO role responsible for creating a comprehensive health IT strategy.

“To realize such a transformation of IT in a system as complex as VHA requires exceptional leadership and staff, sufficient budget, a robust change-management plan, effective systems for accountability and quality control, and efficient and agile contracting. Presently, VHA appears to lack a majority of these factors required for success,” the report states.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)
- here’s the announcement (.pdf)

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