Defense-VA Agreed to E-Health Record Plan in December

By Bob Brewin

April 22, 2013

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments reached an agreement with the White House last December to develop an integrated electronic health record as well a Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record that would include personnel records and benefits information, according to an Office of Management and Budget memo provided to Nextgov. 

The document focused on open standards and interoperability and was sent on Dec. 6 by White House Chief Information Officer Steve VanRoekel and Todd Park, White House chief technology officer.

The memo provides context for the announcement on Feb. 5 by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki that they had scrapped plans to build an iEHR from scratch. Instead, Panetta said, the two departments would “focus our immediate efforts on integrating VA and DoD health data as quickly as possible, by focusing on interoperability and using existing solutions.”

The OMB memo said Defense, VA and the White House “agreed to work closely together over the next several months to resolve several key issues” with the iEHR and VLER and to set a tight timetable.

“The secretary of Defense and the secretary of Veterans Affairs have directed their staffs to accelerate the current iEHR program to meet or beat scheduled targets [limited deployment in 2014, full roll-out in 2017] using open architecture and non-proprietary design,” the memo said.

Various high level officials of both departments – including the secretaries – have testified numerous times to Senate and House committees since Dec. 6 and have never disclosed this memo and its plans for the iEHR.

The memo said Defense and VA committed to the following steps and schedule:

The White House, Defense and VA did not respond to queries from Nextgov about whether or not the objectives contained in the memo are still operative and if the deadlines had been met.

(Image via Andrei Orlov/

By Bob Brewin

April 22, 2013