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VA and DoD to Pursue Joint Electronic Health Record

January 24, 2007, 08:00:00 AM

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Enhancements Improve Care for Veterans: Secretary Nicholson

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) today agreed to make joint inpatient electronic health records a reality — a move that will transform the way both departments deliver health care and that can be a model for the health care industry nationwide. 

“This groundbreaking agreement will help us provide better care to veterans and to members of the armed forces, all of whom have earned the right to world-class health care,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. 

Both VA and DoD believe that a joint system will make inpatient medical records instantly accessible to clinicians in both departments.  VA clinicians will have immediate access to their patients’ military health records, allowing doctors and others to make faster and better treatment decisions.

“DoD and VA manage two of the largest health care systems in the world,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder, Jr., Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs.  “By working together, we can share medical data sooner and more seamlessly than we could on our separate paths.”

In recent years, the two departments have developed a string of pioneering initiatives to improve the way they care for men and women transitioning from military to civilian life.  VA’s current electronic health records system, known as VistA, received the prestigious “Innovations in American Government Award” from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2006.

In testimony yesterday before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, VA Deputy Secretary Gordon H. Mansfield said, “Our two departments understand that we are responsible for the same people, only at different times in their lives.  Our greatest challenge, and our greatest opportunity, is to build systems that meet the needs of veterans and DoD beneficiaries for today and tomorrow.  We will continue to persevere toward that goal.” 

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