In early March, I blogged about a problem in the sharing of medical data between the US Veterans Administration's (VA) VistA electronic health record (EHR) system and the Department of Defense's (DoD) AHLTA EHR system.
The problem involved errors that occurred in the Bidirectional Health Information Exchange that allows clinicians in the VA and DoD to view health information in patient files. The error allowed information from one patient to be presented as it if it was from another.
Another intermittent bug was identified as well in which patient information properly displayed during one query session would disappear in another.
The VA had originally thought back in early March that it had understood and isolated the errors, and was confident that it would fix them in a few days.
Well, the fix took a bit longer than expected.
My friends over at Government Executive magazine, who broke the original story, a few days ago reported that the VA could not replicate the error in a test system, which forced the VA to take users of the exchange off-line, and instead require them to fax and e-mail patient data to one another.
Last Tuesday, the VA was finally able to replicate the errors and isolate them.
The Gov Exec article stated that VA CIO Roger Baker said the errors "resulted from switching from a single processor to a multiprocessor computer to manage the bidirectional system."
The VA now expects to have a fix in place sometime this month.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.