The National Center for Veterans’ Analysis and Statistics most recent veteran population projections hover around 22.2 million people, 45 percent of which are age 65 or older. Of the total veteran population only 38 percent are enrolled in the Veterans’ Health Administration, yet the total number of dependents and survivors who have
claims to VA benefits or services is nearly 25 percent of the total U.S. population.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has been pushing for accelerated information technology as the solution to claims backlogs and paper health records that easily get lost and misplaced, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds:
- Only about 13.6 percent of veterans have tried to utilize the internet to seek information about benefits or services.
- Only 1 percent of all veterans are able to access their Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record online.
- Flagship programs such as “My Health E Vet” report only 3.2 percent usage and are hopelessly difficult to operate for even the technologically savvy, much less the 65 and older crowd.
- VA facilities treat 5.4 million unique patients every year, and there are more than 8.5 million veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration, yet the VA maintains electronic medical records for only 6.8 percent of possible Veterans Health
The integrated Electronic Health Records developed by the VA and Department of Defense for implementation by 2017 has been projected to cost $8 to $12 billion. Actual implementation required the formation of an Interagency Programs Office (IPO) and an additional $753 million. This was all the result of a public law which both established the IPO and set an implementation date of September 2009. Of course, they weren’t able to come to a workable conclusion or meet the deadline, so it’s been relegated to an advisory panel, a joint committee, and eventually it’ll be up to Shinseki and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to come to a final decision.
So we’ve established that vets don’t use health information technologies that much, but bureaucrats keep charging ahead with little concern for veterans’ needs.