Single interface can't fully integrate VA, DoD EHR systems

The Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense will not be able to use a single interface to fully integrate the two agencies' electronic health records, the VA said last week.

Although VA CIO Roger Baker had said last year that the open-source Janus graphical user interface would serve as the integrated health record interface, he said Aug. 2 that Janus is used primarily for outpatient information, reported Nextgov. Other interfaces will be required to access other clinical databases, Baker said at his monthly news briefing.

A Janus fact sheet describes it as a "front-end web application that provides a common data view of 'view-only, real-time' patient information from separate and distinct [electronic medical record] systems." The information is collated and displayed chronologically on a single screen.

The VA and Defense Department plan to  integrate their health records in stages from 2014 through 2017.

Janus was developed by the Defense-VA Pacific Telehealth and Technology Hui in Honolulu, where it was launched at Tripler Army Medical Center in 2003 to provide read-only access to the VA's EHR, VistA, according to the fact sheet. It became bi-directional in 2008, allowing clinicians at VA Pacific Islands Health Care System to see patients' DoD EHRs.

In May, Janus 4.0 became available as an open source, Web-based application to integrate multiple EHRs, according to an announcement by OSEHRA, the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent.

"It is an important open source building block that we build on as we evolve our common health record system," Barclay Butler, director of the DoD/VA Interagency Program Office, which is developing a next-generation integrated EHR, said at the time.

"Enabling broad access to innovative clinician-facing applications is critical to the evolution of EHR technology," Dr. Seong Ki Mun, CEO of OSEHRA, said in the announcement. "Making Janus available to the open source community is an important part of that effort."

Janus was installed as the user interface at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, Calif., in July, Nextgov reported.

To learn more:
- read the Nextgov report
- download the Janus fact sheet
- see the open-source announcement