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Obama Announces Effort To Create New Electronic Health Record System For Veterans That Will Link DOD, VA Records

May 30, 2017

President Obama on Thursday said his administration will create a new electronic health records system designed to seamlessly transfer medical records from the Department of Defense to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Washington Post reports. Obama said, "Currently, there is no comprehensive system in place that allows for a streamlined transition of health records between DOD and the VA." He added that the new system will "contain [veterans'] administrative and medical information from the day they first enlist to the day that they are laid to rest" (Brown, Washington Post, 4/10).

The new program is a part of DOD's $47 billion health care budget for fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration said. According to the administration, VA's overall budget is set to increase by $25 billion over the next five years (Hefling, AP/Kansas City Star, 4/9). Currently, the two agencies have different medical systems, which has led to delays for veterans entering the VA system and a six-month backlog in disability claims at VA (CongressDaily, 4/9). White House officials said that the goal is to integrate the two systems, but no details have been released about how that could be achieved, the Post reports (Washington Post, 4/10).

Administration officials said the electronic system, called the Joint Virtual Lifetime Record, could serve as a model for a national EHR system (Burns, Wall Street Journal, 4/10).

In his remarks, Obama said, "I'm asking both departments to work together to define and build a seamless system ... with a simple goal: When a member of the armed forces separates from the military, he or she will no longer have to walk paperwork from a DOD duty station to a local VA health center. Their electronic records will transition with them." Pentagon spokesperson Cynthia Smith said, "This new approach incorporates a transition strategy by maintaining a seamless access to all clinically relevant data from both systems, while concurrently building 'common services' between the two" (Washington Post, 4/10).

CNN's "Newsroom" on Thursday reported on the new EHR system and included a live broadcast of Obama's remarks. A transcript of the segment is available online. The show also examined existing health care services for veterans (Harris, "Newsroom," CNN, 4/9). A transcript of the segment is available online.

PBS' "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" on Thursday also reported on the new system. The segment included a discussion with Steve Robinson of the Veterans for Common Sense; Donald Berwick, president and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement; and Deborah Peel, founder and chair of the Patient Privacy Rights Policy Center (Suarez, "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer," PBS, 4/9).

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