Friday, February 27, 2009

A New VistA for AHLTA, ReduxBy

A New VistA for AHLTA, ReduxBy Bob Brewin

February 23, 2009 I'm picking up strong and high level signals that Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki plans to push the Defense Department to use the VA's Veterans Health Information System and Technology Architecture (VistA) electronic health record system instead of the Military Health Systems Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) system.

Shinseki has made electronic health records, and the ability to easily exchange health information with Defense, one of his key priorities, and I'm told he has a meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Feb. 24 on the topic.

Shinseki, I'm told, wants Gates "to rip out AHLTA and replace it with VistA." At his confirmation hearing in January, Shinseki told the Senate VA Committee that he planned to work with Gates to ensure development of a seamless electronic health records system for active-duty personnel and veterans, and the meeting on Feb. 24 shows he does not plan to waste any time on development of a system which serves both departments.

Dr. S. Ward Casscells, Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, briefly considered the VistA for AHLTA option last summer, but then said he favored the "converged evolution" of a system which would jointly serve Defense and VA.
A Booz Allen Hamilton report in January 2008 said development of a joint inpatient electronic health records system will satisfy almost all the requirements of Defense and VA.

Shinseki may have gotten the idea that VistA was a better solution for Defense than AHLTA during his physical at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in January shortly before his confirmation hearing. During his hearing he that he asked two Walter Reed doctors if they were familiar with VA's electronic health record system, and, according to Shinseki, they said, "they thought it was an excellent system, and they wished they had it at Walter Reed."

Hopefully more will be revealed on this subject when I discuss Defense/VA health information sharing at the Government Executive Health IT breakfast on Wednesday, March 4 with Rear Admiral Gregory Timberlake, Director, Interagency Program Office, Department of Defense/Department of Veterans Affairs. You can register for the breakfast here.

What's Brewin' is now updated daily and published in blog format on Click here to read the latest entries.

Sphere: Related Content