In its latest look at the electronic health records initiatives of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Government Accountability Office continues to find problems with the agencies working together.

Both DOD and VA--which appear bent on implementing different EHRs but then attempting to seamlessly integrate them--lack mechanisms for identifying and implementing effective information technology solutions to address common health care system needs, according to GAO, a congressional investigatory agency.

"First, the departments have been unable to articulate explicit plans, goals and timeframes for jointly addressing the health I.T. requirements common to both departments' electronic health record systems," according to GAO. Second, the departments have taken weak steps toward creating an architecture to guide joint I.T. modernization efforts.

"For example, the departments have not defined how they intend to transition from their current architecture to a planned future state," according to the report. "Third, DOD and VA have not established a joint process for selecting I.T. investments based on criteria that consider cost, benefit, schedule and risk elements, which would help to ensure that the chosen solution both meets the departments' common health I.T. needs and provides better value and benefits to the government as a whole."

The report, GAO-11-265 and titled "DOD and VA Should Remove Barriers and Improve Efforts to Meet Their Common System Needs," is available at gao.gov.

--Joseph Goedert

 

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