As way of background, Defense and VA use separate medical databases that can neither translate nor communicate their data in a functional way. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 directed the departments to develop a single electronic health record system by 2009. They pushed that scheduled date of completion to 2017 after the plan hit a number of management, oversight, and planning snags, detailed in full here by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The final cost estimate also exceeded initial expectations — from $4 billion to nearly $12 billion.
Notwithstanding the hundreds of millions of dollars devoted to electronic health records, journalist Aaron Glantz noted recently that 97 percent of benefit claims are still done on paper. An inspector general audit last summer found that a North Carolina VA office had so much paperwork it “appeared to have the potential to compromise the integrity of the building.”