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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


Harvard Honors VA's Computerized Patient Records System

April 11, 2006

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One of "Top 50 Government Innovations"

WASHINGTON – Citing the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) leadership role in transforming health care in America, Harvard University has recognized VA's computerized patient records as one of the "top 50 government innovations of 2006."

“VA is again recognized as a leader in the health care industry for the use of electronic patient records," said the Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. "This affirms that VA is providing America's veterans with world-class medical care and raising the bar for all health care providers."

VA's selection as a “top 50” innovator qualifies it as a contender for Harvard’s prestigious Innovations in Government Award, which is considered the “Oscars” of government service.  Eighteen finalists for the award will be announced May 4, as part of the observances of Public Service Recognition Week.  The seven recipients of the award will be announced July 10.

VA has computerized patient records for each veteran who uses its health care system.  The records allow the Department to provide better, safer, more consistent care.  It permits health care professionals at each of the 1,400 locations where VA provides care to see the complete health records of any patient.

“Computerized patient records have changed the way health care is practiced in VA,” said Dr. Jonathan B. Perlin, VA's Under Secretary for Health.  “Just ten years ago, only 60 percent of the paper charts for our patients were immediately available.  Today, virtually 100 percent are available at all our facilities—at all times."

"Our electronic health records have been an important element in making VA health care the benchmark for 294 measures of disease prevention and treatment in the United States,” Perlin added.

The value of VA's patient records was demonstrated when, within 100 hours of Hurricane Katrina’s making landfall last summer, every patient medical record from the devastated areas was available to every VA health care provider throughout the nation.

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