Military Overhaul of Medical Records

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For years the military had been using paper based medical records for their servicemen. In the past a medical record was issued to a recruit during basic training and it followed the member until separation. When a member checked in to a new unit, the record would be checked in at that duty station. The military later realized that incidents such as lost records, destroyed records, or the inability to access records during an emergency could occur with paper records. To solve this problem the military looked into an overhaul of its medical record system by using electronic storage. By 2003 VistA, an electronic health record (EHR), was the single largest medical system in the United States. Even today VistA remains one of the largest EHRs in the world. Nearly half of the hospitals in the US with some kind of EHR system are an implementation of VistA.

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The plan has been for years to take the paper records and make them electronic. Some ideas were to integrate them into dog tags or ID cards. Although this has not happened yet, they are working on at least making the medical information for military personnel electronic. With the information made available electronically, Emergency rooms or battlefield hospitals would be able to access the needed information to better serve the military patient. Many problems have been keeping this from happening, however the Obama Administration is currently still trying to push for the overhaul. Furthermore, it would mean better access for Veterans that need the medical information to apply and qualify for benefits. Currently, those who separate from the service have to hand in their records at separation where the record is shipped and stored into a warehouse. Sometimes, the separated members do not make copies of the record which is often hard to obtain or locate after separation.

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