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Business Transformation in Action

Joe McKendrick

An SOA approach that could 'save billions'

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The government is well-known for redundancy on a large scale, so it's no surprise that the Department of Defense maintains an entirely different electronic health records system than the Veteran's Affairs Administration.

Well, duplication is duplication, and the two departments finally decided to do something about it, Government Health IT reports. At first, it seemed DoD was contemplating ditching its own electronic health records (EHR) system -- AHLTA -- in favor of VA's Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture.

Instead, with the advice of a consulting company, DoD decided to make the two systems interoperable -- with a service-oriented architecture. This is no small feat, given that DoD and the VA operate one of the largest health care systems in the world, serving tens of millions active duty and retired military personnel.

A report in the Navy Times provides more background on the implications of sharing of data and applications between the systems. The Times notes that limited electronic medical record sharing began in 2001; the law that authorized it was passed in 1984. The benefits of a shared system potentially can reduce duplicative testing and adverse drug reactions; increase preventive care and adherence to evidence-based practice, and improve chronic disease treatment. According to sources in the Navy Times, "cost savings will run in the multiple billions."

However, there is a lot of work that needs to be done: "Today, VA has access to digital health information on more than 4.5 million current and former service members...  That figure does not include all current service members. VA has access to current service member data only if VA is actually treating that patient."

These reports did not provide any details on what kinds of solutions will be used to support the SOA approach between the departments. But this is a great example of SOA enabling better delivery of government services in a more efficient manner.

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Personal Health Records allows patient to provide doctors with valuable health information that can help improve the quality of care that patient receives. Personal Health Records can help to reduce or eliminate duplicate tests and allow you to receive faster, safer treatment and care in an emergency and helps to play a more active role in yours and your loved ones’ healthcare.

In this blog (formerly known as "SOA in Action"), Joe McKendrick examines how BPM and related business and IT approaches can promote business transformation.

Joe McKendrick

Joe McKendrick is an author and independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. View more


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