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DoD EHR Migration: From the Frying Pan to the Fire?

Switching EHR providers is not an easy process for any practice or hospital. Whether you have a few hundred patients or a few thousands, the amount of data that has to be transferred into the new system can be overwhelming. Sometimes data has to be cleaned up, reformatted and edited before it can be imported into another EHR. While part of the process may be automated, it is still a lot of work for employees.


Now imagine doing that for the medical records of 10 million people. That is precisely what the DoD intends to do over the next couple of years. Currently the technology being used by the Department of Defense is called the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) and has been used to capture the medical data of millions of soldiers over a decade.


At first the DoD worked with the VA to develop a joint system based on VistA – the open source technology developed by the VA for its own use. After giving up on that project, the DoD has invited bids from commercial EHR vendors to provide a system for military personnel. It is an immense undertaking for which ever provider wins the contract but is inevitable that there will be some problems and issues when dealing with millions of records.


Apart from the sheer quantities of data that have to be transferred and usable within the new system, the transition process will be even more difficult considering that military personnel are often treated in private as well as Army bases across the world. The average soldier is likely to have been treated in at least a dozen places scattered across various countries and his/her record will have details relating to medication, procedures and treatments prescribed etc. The new system will have to be able to parse all this varied information and generate useful alerts for medical professionals.


Even though the bidding process mandates that the new system will have to support EHR standards, interoperability still remains a concern. The military EHR will have to be capable of transferring medical records to other EHRs as well as the one used by VA as soldiers move from active duty to veteran status. How the DoD proposes to address these issues still remains to be seen.


Clients of Dovetail dental software need not worry about interoperability or timely updates as our platform is cloud-based and 2014 MU certified. Whatever changes are implemented by CMS and ONC, our clients get the updates as soon as it is possible.