AHLTA meet Vista.
Whether these two military electronic medical records systems -- which were split in 1987 -- will ever be able to "talk" to each other remains something of a question, and the exact cost of the military's new EMR system is something of a puzzle as well. Whatever the case, any yahoo trying to make sense of the military's acronym alphabet soup and a significant difference in cost estimates may be left google-eyed.
Last month, the Defense Department rolled out its new "Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application" system, or AHLTA, which will serve as a companion to the Veterans Affairs Department's "Veterans Health Information System and Technology Architecture," now known as Vista.
AHLTA, which the military is referring to as a "brand" and not an acronym, is actually just a new name for the Defense Department's existing network previously known as the Consolidated Health Care System, or CHCS -- or, even more precisely, CHCS II since it's replacing a previous incarnation.
Currently used primarily for outpatient care, it was noted at the Nov. 21 rollout that plans call for AHLTA to be used by 60,000 U.S. military healthcare professionals at the Defense Department's 800 clinics and 70 hospitals in 12 countries when fully implemented next December.
It was also reported that a three-year goal is to have an EMR system that can be accessed by medics treating injuries on the battlefield and that the information inputted by those medics will be transferable to the VA.
It was also reported, however, that the cost of the system so far has been $1.2 billion.
This is several hundred million less than previously reported and differs from testimony given by then Military Health System Chief Information Officer James Reardon at a May 19, 2004 hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs oversight and investigations.
At that hearing, Reardon said that the Defense Department had spent $1.4 billion from fiscal year 1979 to fiscal 2005 on CHCS I development and deployment. It was also said that the Defense Department spent $464 million through fiscal 2003 on development and deployment of CHCS II, now AHLTA. This roughly coincides with a Sept. 28 report by the Government Accountability Office titled "Computer-Based Patient Records: VA and DOD Have Made Progress, but Much Work Remains to Fully Share Medical Information," which states that the Defense Department has spent about $600 million on CHCS II through fiscal 2004.
At the HITS deadline, the Defense Department was not able to explain the discrepancy.
To read more about the military's EMR systems, visit http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article.cms?articleId=37708.
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