Tester Calls on the VA to Modernize its IT for the 21st Century

Senator Pushes for Improved Records Sharing to Increase Access to Care

(U.S. Senate) – In a Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing today, Senator Jon Tester grilled VA officials about inefficiencies in the sharing of medical records and how that affects access to care, and how the VA will address its technology gap.

“We all know and agree – accountability at the VA is critically important, whether we’re talking about delivering quality and timely care, or whether we’re talking about IT initiatives such as electronic health records or scheduling systems,” Tester, Montana’s only member of the VA Committee, said after the hearing. “We live in the 21st century and our IT systems certainly need to reflect that.”

Tester called on the VA to improve technology, reduce inefficiencies, and streamline the sharing of medical records between the Department of Defense and the VA. Tester and VA officials agreed that doing so would improve health care outcomes for veterans and ensure that their disability claims could be adjudicated much more quickly.

Tester also pressed VA officials to ensure their medical records systems were interoperable with those in the private sector to ensure veterans are receiving the care they need and providers are being reimbursed in a more timely manner.

Also, Tester expressed concern with the high cost of IT contracts and demanded the VA hold their contractors more accountable for results.

Last week, Tester called on the Senate to pass the Veterans First Act, which will improve access to care and increase accountability measures for the VA. The bill awaits action on the Senate floor.