Defense Health Agency readies health IT systems for data sharing, new EHR

The Defense Health Agency's (DHA) health IT priorities for 2015-16 include internal business consolidation and data sharing with the Veterans Administration (VA), according to an article in the Federal Times.

"We're continuing to work with the Veterans Administration for more interoperability," Dave Bowen, director of health IT for the DHA, said during the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association's Army IT Day last week, according to the article. "This has been a topic that's gotten a lot of press--I can tell you we send massive amounts of data to the VA each and every day, millions and millions of fields of data."

DHA is working to establish ways to further standardized interaction with the VA, and has already standardized more than 46,000 medical terms. The agency also is reworking its internal processes to be more efficient and cost effective, such as consolidating its IT infrastructures.

The changes are being made not only to streamline and centralize health IT in general, but also in large part in anticipation of the Defense Department's move to a new electronic health record system, according to the article. The $11 billion contract award will be announced in a few months; several industry giants have banded together to vie for that contract.

The DoD and the VA had been working for years on an interoperable EHR system, but abandoned that project in 2013. They since have been trying to share data in other ways, with mixed success. Even a recent DoD program to use a non-interoperable electronic scanning system to expedite VA disability claims by producing digitized records was having trouble rolling out, according to the VA's Office of Inspector General.  

To learn more:
- read the article