The White House fiscal 2015 budget request designates $3.9 billion for the Office of Information and Technology and the Veterans Affairs Department. In nominal terms, that's a $2 billion increased from the estimated current year amount of $3.7 billion.
The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs lack credibility when they say their separate pursuit of electronic health record systems modernization is cheaper than a single EHR would have been, says the Government Accountability Office. A Feb. 27 report from the legislative watchdog also shows how promises of close cooperation in health IT the two departments made during the termination of a program to develop a joint system have been significantly undermined.
The healthcare industry could greatly benefit from innovations in digital identity, said Jeremy Grant, senior executive advisor for identity management at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Rather than create a one-off solution specific to healthcare, the industry can leverage other work being done to support the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace.
Stage 3 Meaningful Use would become a final rule in the first half of 2015 and would become effective in 2017, should a workplan be approved by the health information technology policy committee.
Major retail pharmacy chains and industry associations have pledged to adopt Blue Button technical standards to transmit prescription drug history data to customers, the White House announced earlier this month.
The DoD has signaled its intent to buy a commercial EHR to replace its legacy systems since it and the Veterans Affairs Department canceled in February 2013 (citing cost reasons) an effort that would have resulted in a joint EHR running in both military and veterans medical systems.
Officials from the United State and the United Kingdom signed a memorandum of understanding Jan. 23 that would allow health data and health information technology to be shared more effectively, and formally commits the governments to collaborating on health technology.
Since the February 2013 cancelation by the VA and Defense Department of a planned joint integrated EHR – the iEHR – the VA has faced the problem of modernizing its legacy EHR, officially known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, but referred to daily as VistA. Industry insiders describe VistA Evolution as preparatory work for what may be future procurements of specific EHR modules, such as those for pharmacy prescriptions or lab results.
Sixty-nine percent of physicians had applied or planned to apply for the federal electronic-health-record incentive program in 2013, according to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Veterans Affairs Department information technology appropriations for the current fiscal year are set to reach $3.7 billion, an amount that exceeds the departmental request of $3.68 billion.