Baker: IPO will still oversee joint medical application adoption or acquisition


The interagency program office set up by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to oversee creation of a joint electronic health record will continue to press forward with the adoption, acquisition or development of medical applications for use by both departments, outgoing VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said.

During a Feb. 28 press call, Baker, who will leave the VA on March 8, said the departments have agreed that about 50 medical applications need to be joint. Among them are pharmacy, lab result and immunization applications, Baker said, stating that the preference will be for adopting existing applications when both departments agree on them. The cost of joint applications will be around $4 billion, Baker said. In September 2012, the interagency program office estimated that developing the iEHR would cost around $12 billion, Baker said.

VA and DoD officials have sought to downplay the end of the iEHR development program. Baker said the cancelation is for an EHR core and that the two departments will have data on the Open Access Health Data Dictionary standard and utilize common applications. A Harris Corp. enterprise service bus already acquired by the VA in March 2012 will handle data calls and provide application programming interfaces for services in both VA and DoD EHR cores, no matter what core the DoD ends up choosing, he added. The departments will maintain separate databases with federated access, he also said.

The final user interface won't necessarily be the Janus graphical user interface already deployed to several facilities, Baker said. Janus is a view-only GUI, meaning that clinicians wishing to alter the underlying medical record must go back to the underlying EHR.

Janus "is not the be all and end all of the common user interface for the iEHR," Baker said. He also said he doubts whether the DoD and VA will procure a single, joint GUI "because I think in that area we benefit from some diversity, versus wanting to have just one by itself."

The DoD released on Feb. 8 a request for information for a new EHR core system; DoD officials have said they will consider adopting the VA EHR, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture system, but were quick to note problems with it during a Feb. 27 House hearing.

For more:
- listen to Baker's Feb. 28 press call

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