New system of VA electronic health records underway

WASHINGTON — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said Monday the department will be overhauling its electronic health records, adopting a commercial product used by the Pentagon that he hopes will improve care for veterans and reduce wait times for medical appointments.

Shulkin made the announcement at a news conference after a promotional tweet by President Trump that it will ‘‘be a big day for our veterans.’’

The system would replace the VA’s aging information technology system, known as Vista, which has been in use for decades.

‘‘It’s time to move forward, and as secretary I was not willing to put this decision off any longer,’’ Shulkin said.


Under the proposed change, the VA will begin immediately to implement the commercial IT system, which the Pentagon refers to MHS Genesis. He says because all the VA’s patients as former service members originate in the Pentagon system, the VA would be better served if it could ‘‘trade information seamlessly.’’

Currently, health data between the two departments are shared both manually and electronically and must be ‘‘reconciled’’ to be fully integrated.

Shulkin said he also wants to adapt the new system so it can work seamlessly with various health record systems of private doctors outside the VA. The VA is planning a broader overhaul of its Choice program of private-sector care.