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Computer-Based Patient Records: VA and DOD Efforts to Exchange Health Data Could Benefit from Improved Planning and Project Management.

GAO-04-687 June 7, 2004

A critical element of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) information technology program is its continuing work with the Department of Defense (DOD) to achieve the ability to exchange patient health care information and create electronic medical records for use by veterans, active-duty military personnel, and their health care providers.

While VA and DOD continue to move forward in agreeing to and adopting standards for clinical data, they have made little progress since last winter toward defining how they intend to achieve an electronic medical record based on the two-way exchange of patient health data. The departments continue to face significant challenges in achieving this capability. VA and DOD lack an explicit architecture--a blueprint--that provides details on what specific technologies will be used to achieve the electronic medical record by the end of 2005. The departments have not fully implemented a project management structure that establishes lead decision-making authority and ensures the necessary day-to-day guidance of and accountability for their investment in and implementation of this project. They are operating without a project management plan describing the specific responsibilities of each department in developing, testing, and deploying the electronic interface. In seeking to provide a two-way exchange of health information between their separate health information systems, VA and DOD have chosen a complex and challenging approach--one that necessitates the highest levels of project discipline. Yet critical project components are currently lacking. As such, the departments risk investing in a capability that could fall short of what is expected and what is needed. Until a clear approach and sound planning are made integral parts of this initiative, concerns about exactly what capabilities VA and DOD will achieve--and when--will remain.
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Publication:General Accounting Office Reports & Testimony
Date:Aug 1, 2004
Words:282
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