By Krista Holyak
January 28, 2010 - The DoD met six Congressionally outlined objectives that further progress of electronic health record interoperability with the Department of Veterans Affairs, said an official from the Military Health System’s Office of the Chief Information Officer at the 2010 MHS Conference Jan. 26.
Mary Ann Rockey, program executive officer for the MHS OCIO, said that the objectives were successfully met by the Sept. 30, 2009, deadline outlined in the National Defense Authorization Act, section 1635.
“2009 was a challenging yet very good year for the information technology community. The Military Health System made a lot of progress, putting us in a good position for 2010,” said Charles Campbell, MHS Chief Information Officer, also at the conference. “This year we are going to make tremendous, positive changes for the health care community.”
Among those changes will be further work to progress electronic health record capabilities, which Campbell says presents challenges that are unique to the military and veteran population it serves.
“One thing that makes DoD different from other large health care organizations is that we have a very mobile beneficiary and provider population,” he said. “No matter where they go, the information must be readily available.” Campbell said that the health data must be stored centrally and available globally in order to be successful.
In addition to discussing the “way ahead” strategy for the electronic health record, Campbell spoke about the MHS’s information management and information technology (IM/IT) 2010-2015 strategic plan, which is finalized and is the MHS’s first formally approved IM/IT plan since 1999.
Campbell said the IM/IT strategic plan was created in collaboration with the services.
“There are a tremendous amount of moving parts when it comes to IM/IT,” said Campbell, explaining why a strategic plan was needed. “Information is key in the health care business. We must ensure the right information is provided to the right people at the right time.”
One of the top priorities outlined in the plan is to aggregate data for every patient across providers, allowing an electronic health record to operate in all care settings.
“That is one of the top priorities of the plan – get the electronic health record fixed, modernized, and able to meet all needs,” said Campbell.
Rockey said that the MHS will continue significant progression in IM/IT systems, capabilities, infrastructures and processes based on lessons learned and user input. “We made significant steps in 2009, but there is still more work to be done in 2010 and beyond,” she said.