Computer-Based Patient Records: Short-Term Progress Made, but Much Work Remains to Achieve a Two-Way Data Exchange Between VA and DOD Health Systems Page: 6 of 15
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project, and (2) create comprehensive and coordinated plans that included
an agreed-upon mission and clear goals, objectives, and performance
measures, to ensure that the agencies could share comprehensive,
meaningful, accurate, and secure patient health care data. VA, DOD, and
IHS agreed with our findings and recommendations.
In March 2002, however, we again reported that the project was continuing
to operate without clear lines of authority or a lead entity responsible for
final decision-making.6 Further, the project continued to move forward
without comprehensive and coordinated plans, including an agreed-upon
mission and clear goals, objectives, and performance measures. In
addition, the participating agencies had announced a revised strategy that
was considerably less encompassing than the project was originally
intended to be. For example, rather than serve as an interface to allow
data sharing across the three agencies' disparate systems, as originally
envisioned, the revised strategy initially called only for a one-way transfer
of data from DOD's current health care information system to a separate
database that VA hospitals could access. In further reporting on this
initiative in June 2002, we recommended that VA, DOD, and IHS revise the
original goals and objectives of the project to align with their current
strategy, commit the executive support necessary to adequately manage
the project, and ensure that it followed sound project management
When we last testified on the initiative in September 2002,8 VA had
reported some progress toward achieving shared patient health care data
and the two departments had formally revised both the name and the
strategy for the initiative. Specifically, the two departments had renamed
the project the Federal Health Information Exchange (FHIE) Program. In
addition, consistent with our prior recommendation, they had finalized a
memorandum of agreement designating VA as the lead entity in
With this agreement, FHIE became a joint effort between VA and DOD to
achieve the exchange of health care information in two phases. The first
7U.S. General Accounting Office, Veterans Affairs: Sustained Management Attention Is
Key to Achieving Information Technology Results, GAO-02-703 (Washington, D.C.:
June 12, 2002).
GAO-04-271T VA/DOD Health Data Exchange
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United States. General Accounting Office. Computer-Based Patient Records: Short-Term Progress Made, but Much Work Remains to Achieve a Two-Way Data Exchange Between VA and DOD Health Systems, text, November 19, 2003; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc295289/m1/6/: accessed April 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.