DoD official blasts resistance to open-standards EHR

Officials fear forced adoption of VistA, memo says
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Despite the White House's public desire to use open standards to create an integrated electronic health record system to serve both the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, DoD, for years, has resisted such an approach, Nextgov reported this week.

J. Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation at DoD, called DoD's approach "manifestly inconsistent" with that of the White House, adding that it would be "detrimental to the President's goals" should it continue, in a March 28 memo sent to Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Purchasing "proprietary software" to develop an iEHR rather than using open standards, Gilmore said, was "expensive" and "may or may not succeed."

Gilmore noted that agency's anti-open standards stance was a product of the "incorrect assumption" that the VA's VistA software would be forced upon DoD if "immediate progress" on the iEHR was not realized--something he said DoD officials believed to be a strong likelihood.

"Provided the Department [of Defense] moves forward consistent with the President's open standards agenda and makes near-term progress in improving health data sharing between the Department and the VA, this assumption is incorrect," Gilmore said. "The President's open standards agenda has nothing whatsoever to do with the Department using VistA."

The memo seems to underscore the poor communication between the two agencies regarding the creation of an iEHR system. In February, DoD and VA scrapped plans to build such a system from scratch, citing budget and time constraints.

A report published by the Institute of Medicine shortly before the memo was sent in March said that an integrated system was vital to improving care for veterans.

To learn more:
- read the Nextgov article
- here's the memo (.pdf)

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