GAO: Full interoperability of VA, DoD health record systems 'years away'

The Department of Veterans Affairs' approach to addressing its electronic health record needs is “uncertain” and full interoperability with the Department of Defense is “years away,” according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee this week, Valerie Melvin, the GAO’s director of information management and technology resources issues, said concerns have been raised about the VA’s efforts regarding its EHR system, VistA. Those include questions about its interoperability goals and measures as well as issues with unnecessary duplication of the Department of Defense’s EHR modernization efforts. The two agencies abandoned their efforts to create a combined EHR system in 2013.

Melvin noted that since the GAO last released a report on its concerns, the VA has developed some plans to modernize the system, including standardizing systems to improve interoperability and creation of a roadmap to be deployed through fiscal year 2018. However, long delays have caused VistA to become outdated, and the modernization program is running into risks and technical issues, she said.

Melvin added that a modernized VA EHR that is "fully interoperable with DoD’s system is still years away."

Thus, she saud, questions remain about when VA will "define the extent of interoperability it needs to provide the highest possible quality of care to its patients, as well as how and when the department intends to achieve this extent of interoperability with DoD," she said. 

To learn more:
- here's the testimony
- check out the report