On Dec. 1, the MHS went live with its eProfile program for injured soldiers to update their health status online, allowing the military to better track which soldiers might not be ready for deployment. The program was in a pilot phase the month of November.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is issuing a similar online tracking program for benefits for injured veterans, hoping to reduce the average claims period to less than 125 days in 98 percent of cases.
“This is a major step in the transformation of VA’s business processes that is yielding improvements for Veterans as we move to eliminate the disability claims backlog by 2015,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
On Oct. 7, the “Blue Button” program was launched by VA and CMS, the White House, the U.S. CTO Aneesh Chopra, and Health and Human Services CTO Todd Park. The feature allows veterans to download their medical records from Medicare or existing VA databases.
As Blue Button takes flight and encompasses more individuals, the usual security questions must be raised. Should the VA and CMS prove that Blue Button can be locked down from a cybersecurity standpoint, it would be a major step forward for EHR security as a whole.
The Government Accountability Office said the Department of Defense has implemented six of 10 requirements mandated by the National Defense Authorization Act for 2010, so there is still some work to be done. According to iHealthBeat, DoD still needs to synchronize its health IT systems with VA, among other tasks.
Government contractors are already starting to benefit from government agencies’ drive to digitize medical processes.
“Information technology will play an instrumental role in implementing healthcare reform,” said Art Lehrer, vice president and general manager of health IT solutions for General Dynamics Information Technology. GDIT recently won a contract worth $80.3 million to develop software and IT for the HHS’s Early Retiree Reinsurance Program.
Dell Inc. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harry Greenspun has written a book with Jim Champy about how healthcare organizations can improve implementations of healthcare IT without falling into common traps.
“Technology can indeed work wonders in improving healthcare delivery,” the authors wrote in the introduction to the book. However, “breakdowns occur when doctors are left out of the loop entirely or when they are included too late to make a real difference. Those mistakes typically occur when the project is seen as just an IT undertaking rather than part of life-changing reengineering process.”