New Plan for Veterans' Health Records Criticized

The Pentagon and the Veterans Affairs Department announced Tuesday that they will work to enhance their existing computer systems so that soldiers’ health records can be tracked (and accessed) more efficiently. The proposed integrations should also limit future delays and process benefits claims in a timely manner. The new plan for veterans’ health records is criticized by many, however.

We have reported in a number of our posts the effects (and frustrations) created by stubborn delays within the system. More than 800,000 unresolved petitions comprise the ever-growing backlog.

The recent announcement was not without controversy. The two departments were originally supposed to create a new computer system so that both of their records could be merged into one. As such, some congressional leaders bemoaned the idea. Representative Jim Miller (R-Florida) said that veterans and service members will be shortchanged when the DOD and VA take shortcuts.

Conversely, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta explained that the approach was affordable and achievable within the military’s current framework. He believes that focusing on the process of standardizing patient data would be a better use of resources. The VA also agreed that the ultimate goal is to rely on one single record for doctors in either department to access, and that a standardized approach would be best.

It remains to be seen whether this approach will achieve the intended goals, and we take no position on which process would yield the best results. We simply believe that the best interests of injured and disabled veterans should be the focus, regardless of how it is determined that medical information will be stored and shared.

Source:, Lawmakers fault plan for veterans’ health records, February 6, 2013.