Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Congress this week that he is investigating the possibility of switching the military's health records to the Veteran Administration's VistA to deal with long-running interoperability issues between the two systems.
Hagel told a House appropriations subcommittee hearing on the department's $615 billion spending request for fiscal 2014 that he was putting DoD spending on interoperability with the VA on hold “until I get my arms around this.”
Hagel's promises came in response to questioning about the systems by Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), the ranking member of the defense subcommittee, who noted that Congress in its fiscal 2008 authorization bill had directed both the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments “to develop a single electronic health-record system that would follow a service member from the time he or she enlisted until the time they exited into VA care.”
“The original goal was 2009,” Visclosky said. “The new completion date has slipped to 2017. My understanding is that the issue whether there would be one core system or two systems that would integrate information between the departments is one of the issues, and apparently there is a decision pending at DoD within your office on this. The Veterans Administration believes that DoD should use an existing system that is proprietary to the United States government at this point. What's your impression as far as the integration of these systems, and where are we today?”
“There have been programs and progress made,” Hagel said. “We're not where we should be. We're not where we committed to be. But we will get there,” he promised.