Late Breaking News
President Calls for "Joint Virtual Lifetime Record"
- Categorized in: May 2009 Issue
WASHINGTON—After years of trial and error and glacially slow progress, the new administration hopes that by spotlighting the issue of electronic patient medical record transfer between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs they can spur significant change. Last month, President Obama called for the creation of what he referred to as a “joint virtual lifetime record”—a single medical record that would encompass both medical and administrative records for every servicemember and would follow them “from the day they enlist until the day they’re laid to rest.”
“Currently there’s no comprehensive system in place that allows for a seamless transition of health records from DoD to VA. And that results in extraordinary hardship for an awful lot of veterans who end up finding their records lost, unable to get their benefits processed in a timely fashion,” President Obama explained at a press conference. “[I am] asking both departments to define and build a seamless system of integration with a simple goal: when a member of the armed forces leave the military he or she will no longer need to walk paperwork from a DoD duty station to a VA health center. Their electronic records will transition with them and stay with them forever.”
While local VA and DoD facilities have initiated a number of record-sharing systems over the years, most of them have been ad hoc and dependent upon whomever was in charge of the facility at the time. There has yet to be a comprehensive way of transitioning all of a servicemembers records from DoD to VA in a way that can be accessed nationwide.
“This would represent a huge step toward modernizing how healthcare is delivered and benefits delivered for our nation’s veterans. It would cut through red tape and reduce the number of administrative mistakes,” President Obama said. “It would allow all VAsitesaccesstoaveterans’completemilitarymedicalrecordsotheycandeliverythebestpossiblecare,anditwoulddoallthis withthe highest level of privacy and security.”
Legislators, many of whom had spent the last decade calling for a joint system, were pleased with the White House push and curious about the plan’s details. “I am hopeful this electronic record may finally be a reality after 20 years of bureaucratic infighting. I look forward to learning more about the Administration’s proposal, including the timeline for implementation,” said Rep. Steve Buyer, R.-Ind., the ranking Republican on the House VA Committee.
“After decades of much talk and little action, today the President reinforced his strong commitment to solve the issues that confront veterans during their transition from military service to civilian life,” declared House VA Committee chair Rep. Bob Filner, D.Calif., in a statement. “Transmission of electronic medical records between the Pentagon and VA is critical for the continuum of care of our wounded warriors and today’s announcement represents a quantum leap forward to modernizing how healthcare is administered and benefits are granted. This information sharing is a matter of life and death for our veterans.”