VA/DOD center might offer lessons for health IT
In six months, the Veterans Affairs and Defense departments will
open their first fully integrated integrated federal health center. It
could offer some unique lessons for health record integration.
Unlike other sharing agreements that link VA and DOD medical
facilities, the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in
North Chicago is one-of-a-kind because it was authorized by Congress to
function as a single entity, said Jonathan Friedman, public affairs
officer for the facility. “This has never been done before.”
The $370 million medical center is comprised of 53 buildings,
including a new $130 million ambulatory care building under
construction. It will serve veterans, active duty military and the
service members’ families, including children.
The wide range of potential patients is one reason that
Friedman, to help publicize the project, set up a Facebook fan page for
the center in August 2009. The center’s Facebook page has about 130
fans and numerous postings of construction photographs.
Even so, many people have questions about the project, mostly
due to its unusual nature. “People are trying to figure out who we are
and what we are doing,” Friedman said. “We have a lot of information to
My question is: How fully integrated will the electronic health
record systems be? It will be interesting to see if the North Chicago
integration project has any lessons for the VA and DOD’s Interagency
office working on interoperability of their record systems, and for the
Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record project that aims to create a single
lifetime health record for each service member/veteran.
The combined center has been in planning and development since
2002. Under the fiscal 2003 National Defense Authorization Act,
Congress required DOD and the VA to establish a joint incentive program
to demonstrate opportunities to improve access and quality of care by
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 specifically
authorized the integration of the North Chicago VA Medical Center and
the DOD’s Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes into a single medical health
The final phase of the integration is the DOD’s construction of a
$130 million new ambulatory care center adjacent to the North Chicago
VA Medical Center.
On the Facebook page, which has about 126 fans, sponsors have
posted dozens of photographs and four videos. The official sponsor of
the medical center’s fan page is not listed.
Posted by Alice Lipowicz on Mar 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM