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Topical look at military online health records system: stakes high

Given its huge nexus to the military, Texas is logically a state wherein many readers show an immediate interest in news relating to servicemembers, veterans and their families.

And, of course, that interest is writ large when the topic relates to health care.

As noted in a recent news article on the military and health care records, there are approximately "9.6 million active-duty warfighters and dependents" who currently rely upon the health care system administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

For several years now, the DOD has acted in accord with other health groups across the country in attempting to implement a high-performance and seamless electronic health record (EHR) system to supplant handwritten patient records.

And, like those groups, the initiative has not been without growing pains. Myriad studies have cropped up to reveal doctors' frustrations working with EHR platforms and interfaces. Medications have been bungled. Records have been lost. Communications between differing operating systems have been problematic.

In short, change is needed, with that fact being widely admitted.

The Pentagon is now working to improve its EHR system with, as Forbes notes, "a more modern approach to moving medical data wherever it's needed fast."

Better take it slowly and thoroughly think that through, cautions a Forbes commentator on the medical industry. Special concerns attach to an undue reliance on a single provider, which can create material problems for an EHR user seeking to communicate with other care groups' systems. A lack of integration has centrally marked electronic systems since their advent years ago, with Forbes noting that, in some ways, "the system is more balkanized now than it used to be."

And the DOD's plan to graft from an already existing system will likely be problematic, states Forbes, given the ample evidence that currently used models already reflect an "antiquated approach."

The stakes are high. At an estimated $11 billion, the system implemented should reasonably be expected to allow for seamless communication across different platforms and be far more user-friendly than many critics contend it currently is.

If the new EHR system turns out to have material glitches (especially some of the same problems that exist now and that the military is seeking to overcome), the backlash on Capitol Hill -- and more importantly, the adverse consequences posed for patients -- could be intense. Consultation service from Maloney Law is free. Contact us today to get started.

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