Veterans and Electronic Health Records

EHRs, PHRs, and the VA

The tradition of Memorial Day, remembering and honoring our fallen soldiers, has been around since the Civil War. Back then it was known as Decoration Day, coming from placing flags and flowers on soldier’s graves. A tradition we still do today. Flags will be flown at half-staff today only until noon symbolizing our remembering the more than one million who gave their lives for our country. The flag is raised for the rest of the day to say we will honor their sacrifice for our freedoms.

I thought it appropriate today to share some of the things that the Veterans Affairs (VA) is doing in healthcare and health IT. And you can’t talk about the VA without starting with their medical system the Verterans Health Administration (VHA) and VistA. The Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) is their information system built around an EHR for the VA. This open source system conceptually conceived in the 1970s has claims to one of the most successful health IT systems implemented.

Another successful venture and in the forefront for the VA is MyHealtheVet personal health record (PHR) and the Blue Button Initiative. All registered users of the system have access to their medical records and they can additionally collect and download information through the use of the Blue Button. You can also find the private sector now building applications that use the Blue Button.

In some current news, Roger Baker the CIO for the VA announced last week, the joint integrated EHR system being developed by the VA and the Defense Department. Deployment nationwide and continued development is scheduled for 2014 to 2017. He also says the “bulk of the applications won’t be in the new system, many of the applications will continue to run in the existing legacy systems, VistA and AHTLA.”

Here’s to a Happy Memorial Day and a special thanks to all our military and their families for their service. We honor you.