Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs Deadlines for Interoperability

Government Health IT ran an interesting article talking about the Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs deadline for interoperability of electronic health records. Here’s a short section of the article:

For Navy Capt. Michael Weiner, acting deputy program officer of the Defense Health Information Management System, the two departments have met the relevant interoperability criteria, which were set by the Interagency Clinical Informatics Board, he said.

These included making DoD inpatient discharge notes available to the VA; increasing the number of electronic gateways deployed between the two systems; enhancing the sharing of social history; creating the ability to view scanned documents between systems; and making available DoD periodic health assessments and separation physicals to the VA.

“These were the agreed upon metrics and measures of success and we have achieved them all,” Weiner, told Government Health IT.

However, Rear Adm. Gregory Timberlake, the now retired head of the IPO, committed earlier this year to the complete and computable interoperability of six categories of data by September 30. Not all of these are now shareable in computable form, Weiner acknowledged.

Those six classes of data–for prescriptions, laboratory results, radiology results, and physician, nursing, and therapist notes–were to augment the exchange of drug interaction and allergy information for shared DoD/VA patients previously available. Lab results and radiology results are still not shareable in computable format, according to Weiner.

Of course, we should applaud those who are working on interoperability of EHR software. However, this is a small example of the complexity that’s involved in trying to make healthcare data interoperable. If two organizations that are so closely tied as the DoD and VA are having a challenge sharing their EHR records, imagine what it’s going to be like in the private sector.