Agencies granted special hiring authority for digital services
May 06, 2015
Agencies looking to build digital services squads can now skirt some of the typical federal requirements in hiring technologists for those teams.
David Stegon was a staff reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop from 2011-2014.
The departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense are reprioritizing efforts around the Integrated Electronic Health Record program, calling for an increase in the interoperability of records between the two departments.
When completed, the iEHR program will provide military personnel and veterans with better access to health care and a single electronic health record that will follow them throughout their career.
“This approach is affordable, achievable, and if we refocus our efforts we believe we can achieve the key goal of a seamless system for health records between VA and DOD on a greatly accelerated schedule,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said during a joint press conference with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Tuesday.
What that means from a technology standpoint, VA Chief Technology Officer Dr. Peter Levin told FedScoop, is a “doubling down” on the commitment to JANUS, a graphical user interface, which provides clinicians a common view of both VA and DOD medical data, and is the program’s first customer-facing component.
“What we’re doing is accelerating iEHR, not backing off,” Levin said. “We are attacking the problems we know how to solve today and delivering the components that we know how to make today quicker than what is on the schedule right now.”
The secretaries wanted the type of agile and effective solutions that consumers have come to expect from customer-centered organizations like VA, which has dramatically improved implementation delivery under the Project Management Accountablllty System program instituted by CIO Roger Baker.
“They want to see early and quick results that are both economically sustainable and operationally effective; they weren’t so much interested in power point plans” Levin said.
Once complete, the record program will provide DOD and VA clinicians with the complete medical records of more than 18 million service members, veterans and their beneficiaries.
The goal is to provide one set of electronic records from entry into the military through veteran status. The program is designed to allow service members or veterans to download information and present it to doctors or other health care providers without delays.
The two departments will begin a pilot program this summer – Levin said that JANUS is expected to be in the VA’s polytrauma centers by July – on the common interface for doctors. That will be tested in seven of the centers across the country and it will be expanded to two other VA sites as well.
“All of these facilities will be interoperable by the end of July 2013,” Panetta said. “So a fast time track, but we think we can get it done.”
These centers will be in San Antonio, Minneapolis, Palo Alto, Calif., Tampa, Fla., Richmond, Va., Anchorage, Alaska, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
In their public statements, the secretaries also emphasized the VA’s successful Blue Button program as an example of how to accelerate patient-controlled data interoperability.