VA Gains EHR Access, Adds Patient Tracking System


The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday will allow every clinician at all its hospitals and clinics to access in real-time electronic health records of wounded soldiers evacuated from Afghanistan and Iraq through a VA version of the Department of Defense’s Joint Patient Tracking Application, Government Executive reports.

The Web-based Veterans Tracking Application, or VTA, will provide VA physicians with access to all DOD medical records they need on a patient, beginning with the data entry from a combat medic into a handheld computer on the battlefield, Army Lt. Col. Mike Fravell, who helped develop the Joint Patient Tracking Application, said.

The Pentagon in January blocked VA physicians’ access to the Joint Patient Tracking Application while an information-sharing agreement was negotiated between the two departments. Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho) discovered the restrictions and wrote to DOD in February 2006, calling for restored access to the system for VA.

VTA also will be used to coordinate the care of soldiers transferred from military treatment centers such as Walter Reed Army Medical Center, to a VA hospital for care, Dr. Edward Huycke, chief DOD coordination officer at VA, said.

The application will aid the coordination of benefits for veterans being discharged and help soldiers transition from active duty to veteran status, Daniel Cooper, VA’s undersecretary of benefits, said. Cooper recently told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee that the Veterans Benefits Administration already has begun using VTA to identify service members who have filed claims.

The Veterans Health Administration also intends to quickly integrate VTA, which initially will be a separate applications window into the Computerized Patient Record System component of VA’s Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture EHR system, Huycke said.

Fravell said the development and deployment of VTA is inexpensive, but he would not provide details. ASM Research and Computer Sciences are providing contractor support for VTA, Fravell said (Brewin, Government Executive, 4/20).

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