07/13/11 Monday, Congressman Joe Donnelly announced the introduction of The Ensuring Servicemembers’ Electronic Records’ Viability (E-SERV) Act, H.R. 2470, which would improve the efficiency of the current electronic health record system for military personnel and veterans. Created in April 2008 by Congress, the Interagency Program Office (IPO) coordinates the transition to and implementation of a system where the U.S. Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) maintain common and transferable health records for servicemembers and veterans throughout their lives. Under existing law, the IPO lacks sufficient authority to implement ongoing developments to the electronic health record system that would make the system more efficient.
“Servicemembers have earned the highest-quality health care and benefits for their service,” said Donnelly. “My bill would give the IPO the authority necessary to make the system work better for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This change will lead to a successful and timely implementation of electronic health care records for servicemembers and veterans. We owe our men and women in uniform, both present and past, a debt of gratitude for their service.”
The E-SERV Act would establish the IPO as the single point of accountability and authority for electronic health record development, streamlining the communication between the VA and DOD. Donnelly’s legislation would also require the DOD and VA to eliminate their individual electronic health record efforts that duplicate the IPO’s efforts and require these health information technology funds and personnel to be reassigned to the IPO’s operations. By eliminating the existing, duplicative operations, Donnelly’s legislation would ensure that there is one, authoritative office coordinating the electronic record system for the two agencies. These changes would improve the quality and efficiency of health care for servicemembers and veterans.