Researchers: VA Electronic Health Records System Worth The Cost
News outlets report on the electronic health records system at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A new study in the journal Health Affairs finds that while the system, "collectively called Vista, for Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture" was expensive, it has paid off, The Wall Street Journal reports. "'We conservatively estimate that the VA's investments in the four health IT systems studied yielded $3.09 billion in cumulative benefits net of investment costs by 2007,' say the authors, a team from Center for IT Leadership at Partners Healthcare in Charlestown, Mass. The results looks at measures such as reduced workloads, freed workspace and savings from items such as unneeded medical tests and avoided hospital admissions. The biggest VA outlay - and its biggest savings generator - was the Vista's Computerized Patient Record System, the home-grown system for electronic health records that was found by the study to cost $3.6 billion."
The study also found that the VA "had spent proportionally more on IT than the private sector but could claim better performance in such areas as cancer screening and better glucose measures for diabetics" (White, 4/6).
Federal Computer Week adds that "[t]he Veterans Affairs and Defense departments intend to expand their Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) pilot program, officials said today The next series of demonstrations will involve exchange of additional types of data, including lab data" (Lipowicz, 4/6).
Meanwhile, the VA "believes it has figured out the fix to turn the bi-directional electronic health records system back on," which had created a security issue in February, Federal News Radio reports. The VA discovered in February that the bi-directional system merged two patients' data unexpectedly. "The discovery and closing of this cybersecurity vulnerability comes as VA and DoD are making significant progress in exchanging electronic health records and testing the sharing of data with private sector health care providers" (Miller, 4/7).